“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”
― Thomas Wolfe
I used to think that loneliness was a bad thing. Something to be avoided. More recently I am thinking that loneliness is part of the human condition. The existentialist school of thought suggests that loneliness is the essence of being human. After all, we each come into the world alone, and we travel our unique path through life, and we die alone. And this is the human condition.
Loneliness is that time when a person feels cut off, disconnected, not a part of the whole. I remember from as far back as middle school, reading and thinking about the John Donne quote:
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
― John Donne, No Man Is An Island
Interesting fact: the man who introduced this quote to me was Father O'Leary. Father O' Leary was the young (in my 12 year old eyes) assistant pastor in the parish and took over my 7th grade class for one month when the regular teacher had some sort of emergency. One of the different things he required of us, was to memorize various poetic selections, including this one. This one never left my brain. It makes sense to me. He was an Irishman, far from home. Perhaps he was lonely and this selection spoke to him. Oddly enough, it spoke to me, a 12 year old. I could feel it in a way that still surprises me.
Another interesting fact: I often feel lonely. I often feel disconnected from the world, from my peeps. It is not anything they did. It's something about me. Perhaps a genetic quirk. I have that Irish melancholy about me too often, Whether I like it or not, I seem to have a deep well of emotion. I am an expert at being the professional during the work day. You will seldom see me lose my professional persona at work. But, in the blue black hours of the morning, while walking the dogs, or in the tired hours of the evening, when feeling depleted and empty, my pal, Ms Melancholy joins me. She reminds me that life can be lonely at times. It has to be, doesn't it? Life is lived alone but there are people on whom you can lean and with whom you can laugh and cry. But in the end? In the end, you are alone in this world. Get used to it.
There is something very passionate and beautiful about this song. I suppose it is a romantic piece but that's not how I hear it. I hear it as a painful song. There is something very haunting to me about his voice. I don't really pay attention to the lyrics, more to the melody and the depth of his voice. And it is beautiful in that touching sort of way. But I know nothing about music. Only that some selections make me feel alive. And this one does.
What do you think?