Zaynab Khuder meditates on loneliness and how we perceive it as a feared stranger, when really it is a friend that we must nurture, always.
Janet Fitch in White Oleander poses that: “ Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you'll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.”
Loneliness is often categorised as a concept that plagues us with an imminent, dark shadow perched on the hilt of our shoulders. It looms above us as this untouchable, immovable force that we can’t seem to escape. The mere weight of the word harbours a stigma that elicits a tremor within us, creeping and stalking with its own cadence. Maintaining this perception of loneliness within us, leads us to believe that we must do everything in our power to escape it. We must crawl through its complexity and its threats of melancholy; as if it'll bring us some sort of freedom to rid ourselves of its acquaintance. The solution is not to break-free from the constraints we foolishly believe it has on us, but to embrace its intimacy.
Loneliness is a hunger, satiate it and it will set you free. Indulge in its transcendence, let it drill holes in your bones and fit itself between tough sinew, burrowing a home for itself inside you. We fear loneliness without realising that our aloneness is innate; an unconscious force we sit with everyday. It lingers in our thoughts when we contemplate the complex and trivial, in-between ringing silences of conversation and laughter. To dismiss its significance within us is to admit ignorance.
To understand and cultivate the immortality of loneliness is to nourish the soul and bring forth the intricacies of our transient selves. We are greatly misled by the concept of loneliness and what it means to be alone. We are manipulated by a prefab that sells the idea that loneliness is something we should fear, something that we need to escape. Our greatest failure is the misconception of its presence, because loneliness is the human condition. Fitch is right to say that we shouldn’t expect to outgrow it, it is a concept bigger than us and beyond us. It is ingrained in us from birth to death, from the moment we are severed from our umbilical cords to the second we take our last breath.
There is no cure to loneliness. To humour the naive belief that there is a solution to our aloneness only presents the notion that it somehow makes us flawed. Our solitude does not make us broken; it nurtures us. And to think otherwise would be to deny the profoundness of our own existence. We may be brought into this world based on the union of two beings, but we are our own selves, and each self is built with the ability to bask in aloneness. We simply dismiss this notion because we don’t realise that being lonely or alone can be categorised simply. We are alone when we read and write, when we binge mind-numbing television and stay up late nights to study or to mull over our thoughts. We are alone when we close our eyes and drift into the unconscious. We are alone so often, in so many aspects of our lives, the mundanity of it is almost underwhelming. So why is it so hard to accept that we should embrace its existence instead of shuddering at its inevitability? It is a part of who we are as individuals, it’s what makes us human.
We are so transfixed by a wanting to be understood by others, that we forget to indulge and understand ourselves. The illusion of pessimism that surrounds loneliness is the only thing stopping us from embracing its essence. We must learn to cast aside this stigmatic view and accept loneliness as the means to our humanity and existence.
Loneliness carves itself in the lines of our veins, its vitality pumping within our hearts to serve us an understanding of our souls. To expect that anybody besides ourselves will grasp a deep, all-knowing understanding of our complexities without fault, is an ignorance. So bask in that aloneness, seek it out and nurture it when it washes over you in the cracks of the morning and in the silence of the night. Indulge in it, feed its hunger and embrace its beauty because it is with you in all aspects of life. Choose to enjoy the solitude, not escape from its silence, for it is the mirror to our souls.