I’ve been feeling lonely lately. It could be because I spend most of my time completely and utterly alone. I don’t even have a goldfish. All I’ve got are three small potted plants gracing my window sill – and they don’t say much.
Yet, the truth is, I’m not exactly looking for a relationship. Neither am I wanting to return to the days of dog ownership. I love dogs, but after having them for most of my life, I’m enjoying being free of the guilt that comes when they want to play, or go for a walk, and I just don’t feel like it.
For the first time in a long time, I don’t have to take care of anyone but myself. It’s actually a rather freeing feeling. Yet, the freedom of being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, isn’t all blue skies and sunshine. Feeling lonely at times seems part of the package.
Even so, I don’t let it get me down. Instead, I reflect on the wisdom offered by Salvatore Cresci, a friend and valued member of the Be Unstoppable community.
Sal’s insight on feeling lonely is profound. In fact, it is so profound I’ve been in the process of processing it for nigh on six months. If you want to start processing it for yourself, I’d better tell you what he said.
“Whenever we go back into the past, or forward into the future, we are alone,” he asserts. “It is only in the present that we are never alone.”
Although I would have liked Sal to explain this idea in a three-part lecture series complete with audio and visual aids, he didn’t expound. Perhaps he knew it would take time to roll around in my cranium before it sank in. He may also have had the foresight to see the benefit of giving me space to wrestle with it on my own.
Since it’s been rolling around long enough, it’s high time I got out the mat and started wrestling. However, I don’t want to wrestle alone. Therefore, I’ve decided to do it publicly right here and right now.
After all, now is the only real time. In fact, that might be the whole point of Sal’s assertion. It is only in the present moment, and each successive present moment, that we can experience anything. Everything else – be it memory of the past or fantasy of the future – takes place solely in our minds.
When we go back into the past, we are isolating ourselves from the world around us. With tunnel vision, we head down rabbit trails of self-pity, lament, delusion, and whatever else we can find in our storehouse of subjective memory to satisfy the purpose of our reverie. Often, we go there looking for comfort. Seldom do we find it.
So we venture into the future, imagining what our life would be like “if only” this or that were our reality. Or worse, we envision tragic scenarios that may happen to us down the road. This, too, is only a construct of the mind.
I don’t know about you, but this rings true for me. When I feel lonely, it’s usually because I’m pining over a loss I experienced in the past. Either that, or I’m fearing future losses hiding around the next bend in the road.
In the present, however, I am surrounded by abundant realities. There are actual places I can go. There are living and breathing people I can do things with. I can also enjoy the ever-present God of the universe!
To be clear, there is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Just keep Sal’s insight in mind next time loneliness tempts you to wallow in the past or fantasize about the future.
Remember . . . the secret to never feeling lonely again is staying in the present where you are never alone. All that is required is to look up and look around, where myriad opportunities for connection abound!
“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of the judgment, character, and will.” ~ William James.