Archive for April, 2013

Loneliness & Existential Boredom

Posted in A Different Perspective with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2013 by thecountessshadow


Most people I met throughout my life were always complaining about their lives one way or another. Of course there is that sort of whiny people who complain all the time about anything and everything, but that is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about normal, mature people, who are most often tough and going along with their lives so well, those people who don’t usually whine or complain, but you can easily spot that subtle sadness hiding deeply inside them, peering out of their eyes at special moments, and if you are a good listener and they do open up to you, you will be astonished to find the most apparently happy people keeping a lot of sadness and dissatisfaction inside them! I can imagine some of you now thinking of me as a gloomy person looking for sadness everywhere, just like the popular Egyptian saying “looking for sadness with forceps! “, but that is not true! (Who am I kidding here?! :))
Well, I am not sure if I am a pessimistic person or not, but what I am sure of is that my personal mood and taste have nothing to do with this remarkable observation that I am discussing now.
What actually astonishes me is not the fact that most people alive are sad or somehow unsatisfied (that does not catch the attention of a gloomy person!), but what does catch my attention is the content of their complaints. For a while you might think that everybody has his/her own issues that trouble him, but when you listen carefully and look closer beyond the traditional introduction (kids, bills, work,…etc.) that is somehow individualized, you will discover that they all complain about the exact same thing (everyone in his own words), but obviously, it is emptiness, a deep sense of boredom and emptiness! Believe it or not, but this is how most people do feel regardless of their age, sex, ethnic group, or social/educational background. At first I linked those feelings to poverty with all the deprivation it brings, or to social withdrawal and loneliness in introvert people with all the negative feelings they create, but with time I knew how wrong I was! Of course I don’t deny that poverty and loneliness ( and many other disturbing things humans encounter) can be a source of a great deal of suffering and pain, but they do not cause that sense of emptiness! They may just make you pay attention to it more quickly, but they certainly do not cause it.
There must be some people who think I am a fool who builds a whole post about a false assumption that most humans are sad! and they most probably have stopped reading earlier, so if you are reading this far, I will make another assumption that you do agree with me about my observation, and wish for us to discuss it further, so bear with me, as I do not have a solid idea or explanation, and as usual, I am just sharing my crude thoughts with you.

I noticed that most people who frankly complained of boredom and emptiness, also complained about being lonely, and the simple explanation that humans are social creatures who suffer when they are alone might seem fair enough for some but actually not for me, and I will tell you why right now. First because though most people who have that sense of existential boredom are lonely, there are still others with a very busy social life who feel the same way, second because most lonely people who find support at some point from family members or friends and cease being physically lonely, almost never cease feeling lonely and bored (though they are not anymore!) and another important point is that most of these people do not fulfill the criteria of  clinically significant depression and may be functioning well in their professional lives, so from a psychiatric point of view they are normal individuals ( and they are indeed!) so it is not a disease we are dealing with here. My third reason is that a lot of sociable people complain of a sense of loneliness despite being in a crowd! For me, loneliness is not the underlying cause of that existential boredom, it seems more like a synonymous feeling than a cause! Anyway, whatever your opinion is we will agree that the word loneliness is a keyword in this issue that requires more attention, so let’s go on from here.
A wise man I respect once said “You must feel lonely, because you are alone inside your body!”. This is one quote I adore, and one I want to start my discussion from. It seems that people do fear loneliness very much, that they rush to any company even if it makes them uncomfortable, or even hurt them at times, just to run away from loneliness as if they are running from an angry wild beast! This is especially obvious during the early stages of human development as in adolescence, when you find an adolescent preferring to stay with a crowd that hurts him/her to being alone! This behaviour does not exclusively occur in adolescence, as it happens for all people in different degrees, but it is just more obvious and pronounced in that age group, before young boys and girls grow up and learn how to hide that fear of loneliness ( instead of looking into it! ). It just seems that loneliness is so scary that people may hurt themselves to escape it! So, what is so scary about loneliness? What does it mean to be lonely? Well, if you remove the halo of negative energy surrounding that word, you will recognize that a lonely person is someone who is alone at the moment you are describing him/her! Yes, it is that simple, and moreover it seems pretty normal! I never heard of somebody complaining of being lonely in the bathroom for example! So what is wrong with being alone in a classroom or an office? Why does it create all those negative feelings?! I know some of you may argue that my description of that painful feeling is very superficial, and that I am committing a sort of logical fault when I compare it to being alone in a bathroom, when it is a state of being alone most of the time, and a feeling that the person is left behind, what we call loneliness! Well, I will agree with this, it is not just a logical fault but it is actually a very stupid and silly description from me, and I know it, but I used it to show you how many logical faults people commit, and how many false ideas people mention as facts when they describe their loneliness!
Let’s start with the crude meaning of the word. When a person says that he/she is lonely, it almost always means something else!, as the word alone needs the “place parameter” to mean something, alone in the office? Alone in the house? Alone in your room or what? Actually we are always surrounded with people in all those places, then it is not about physical loneliness. Is it about being unable to interact with people around you? It is possible, but from my own experience and observation, everybody will find somebody to interact with everywhere, it is a fact! You may be unable to approach a woman you like at work, or get along with some cool guys in school, or many similar things according to your age, but these things are not being lonely! So now I guess you understand what I meant when I said that most people use the word lonely to describe something else, but that does not mean they do not feel lonely! That is not what I said, as they do feel lonely indeed! What I wanted to conclude were 2 things, that people use the word lonely frequently to describe any bad feeling or frustration, second, that being lonely is an internal feeling not an external state or a logical fact!
So now if we get back to our earlier question, why do we fear loneliness so much, or what do we actually fear? The shocking answer is that it is ourselves we do fear indeed! The angry wild beast you run away from is nothing but your own self!
At a certain point in my life, I was astonished to find that I enjoyed the company of others when I could hardly stand the company of myself! When I looked closer it was easy to find that it was not others’ company I enjoyed, it was the noise a crowd created that I loved, a noise that helped me to escape the inner silence, to escape the reality of my existence, that it is only me who resides within that body! That I am one, and one is alone, or like that same wise man said, you are alone with…! I don’t know if I am making my point clear but I hope you got it.
But again, what does this have to do with existential boredom, or that sense of emptiness, and dissatisfaction? And my answer is that it has everything to do with it! Since the dawn of time, man has had that same problem, the same harsh questions, who is he, and why is he here? A human comes to life, lives for a while, and passes away, and he just can’t understand what is going on.
I believe it is this question that we fear, it is this question that makes us crave noise to escape it, it is that question that makes us set targets all the time to keep our minds busy to avoid it! I will go further to say that most of us choose to live in preset moulds ( preset traditions, morals, norms, life-long plans!) as if we are sheep in a herd ( sorry for the expression but we all do it! ) to escape that scary question.
Sometimes I have a sort of extreme and weird idea, that almost every system in our lives be it political, social, or religious was designed to help us avoid that question, to make sure that nobody comes in close contact with himself! To make us all repeated copies of each other and I believe that is the best way to waste an already short life, but that is another story! It might sound superficial or even stupid for some of you, but I do personally believe that living in a mould, avoiding yourself’s company to escape the scary question is the source of that existential boredom and emptiness! The question is so scary, facing it brings fear and insecurity at times, but escaping it makes us dead inside, like a gear in a machine.
It is important to mention that by saying, be in your own self’s company and face your existential question, I never meant it to be an invitation to quit living and go over a mountain to sit by yourself and think, not at all! Actually I meant it to be an invitation to start living fully, to never avoid anyone’s company including yourself, to never make a choice because you were taught that it is the right thing to do, as this is the biggest lie ever! I personally believe that there is no right or wrong choice, there is only my choice, and your choice, nothing more.
I was astonished to know that some of the bestselling books are books with titles like “change your life, be the master of yourself, be an alpha, ..etc.” and though I respect the sacred right of every person to choose the material he/she reads, I’d say that is a waste of money if you ask me! I never claimed to have the answer, and all I do is share my questions and my ideas about them with you, but I really want to say that if anybody wants to change his life (or actually start it!) all he needs to do is to follow his instincts and listen to the sound of himself, not any other. I believe that if a man wants to start living, he needs to be brave enough to throw every preset mould in the nearest garbage can, take a deep breath, and start the risky and beautiful journey that is called life.
Now here is something that is not related to the post, but you must know by now that I cannot write a single post without getting myself involved some way or another, I tried to control that narcissistic trait of mine but that seems to be impossible! 🙂 I want to share my greatest fear with you, it is to regret a lost life when my time comes, to regret any wasted moment in lies, maybe I am greedy, or may be not and that is just one other fear we all share, who knows? 🙂

Her Wild Stallion