Where do they all come from?

Where do they all come from?

I was driving to classes a few days ago, caught in morning stop hour and restlessly flipping through the radio stations. I came to a stop on the local oldies station KRTH which was playing the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”, which is a perennial favorite. I habitually mix up the lines in the second verse so that somehow Father MacKenzie finds himself darning the socks that he keeps in a jar by the door, an image which I find secretly delightful to think about.

It so happened that I came to a stop on this station at the same time that I brought the car to a stop at a train crossing.

“Ahhh, look at all the lonely people.” The chorus exhorted as the train trundled past: windows full of morning commuters who were studiously ignoring one another. “Where do they all come from?”

It struck me then that loneliness is a strange concept. We all feel it.  We can feel it even in the middle of a large crowd. We can be all alone and not necessarily feel lonely. So what is loneliness? Why does it happen? What makes us feel the pinch of sadness of being alone no matter how many people are around us? Is it merely a lack of human connection? Is it a lack of love? A lack of understanding? Is it something that we are born knowing or is it something that we learn?

Perhaps loneliness is a side effect of our pursuit of independence. In our need to define ourselves as “A Person” out of a large mass of “People” we put distance between ourselves and others, and this is good for us personally, but no one is an island and maybe loneliness is the gravity that keeps us in orbit.

Do we feel lonely when we are an active part of a community or a family? Perhaps loneliness is the feeling that results from being excluded from the greater mass of humanity in some way, which is why it besets the highest and lowest strata of society the most. Perhaps loneliness reminds us of our inherent need to be part of humanity and not merely to be human.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on September 11, 2013.

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