Facing forward

stained glass leaded windowThere are things I just don’t like facing. I shut down. I tumble the discomfort into a jumble of words and throw the words out, lose them in the chaos.

I just had a party, a happy, boisterous noise of 15 people. When everyone left I was alone. Loneliness loomed. At first there was panic. But I sank down into it and it softened. Ultimately everything comes to an end. To believe otherwise is delusion. But to discount the value of the illusion of endlessness is also foolish. It is important to acknowledge the sadness of endings.

We are human, animal, flesh and blood. We need petting, barking, sniffing, munching, along with all the rich variety of human emotions attached to our bodies. Yet we forget this fact more often than we realize. There is so much activity that occupies us on a daily basis that we don’t often need to face our frailty, our mortal coil. Even our spiritual lessons distract us from the naked truth. Subscribing to the illusion of permanence causes suffering.

Yet beyond that truth, or perhaps encasing it, is the brute reality that we have no choice but to involve ourselves in the lives of others, as much as we can. Even though doing so causes us the suffering of endings. This paradox both intrigues me and shakes me to the core. Regardless of the “meaning” of life, it’s obvious we must live it somehow, embrace some belief. To do otherwise is suicide, unless you are meant to become an extreme ascetic. (or a lost puppy, like me)

Even within the company of another we are ultimately alone, a separate mass of nerves. I’ve never been comfortable with that idea, but none of my experience has proved otherwise. My own reality, my body, mind and unique path doesn’t permit full convergence with another person. At least not yet, not in this life. Sharing with others my deepest emotions, my deepest understanding, my greatest epiphanies, offers momentary connection, then passes like an orgasm. All we ultimately have is the illusion, frame by frame, to use in some cut and paste, pointillist storyline of meaning.

So the party is over. The joyous roar which filled the void has ended. I cradle the sweet sadness of being alone.

I watch. I see the curve, the rise and fall of those waves. Ultimately it’s the waves, rather than the epiphanies, which comfort me. It’s like breathing. I sigh and turn the page.

17 thoughts on “Facing forward

  1. I’m not sure that existence is ever more than a continuous (sic) flow of discontinuous experiences. A set of individuated experiences and sensations, moments, thoughts, emotions, somehow threaded together in sequence or simultaneity… but only just barely, by the way we think about them.

  2. MB- I heard an interview on the radio last week about the nature of consciousness. He described it much as you just did in your comment. According to him we create a “story” to connect all our disperate experiences into a meaningful whole.

  3. Hey, I know where that stained glass is located! My life is about the pursuit of that stained glass, at least of late, about the waxing and waning of that possibility. The stained glass offers permanence, stability, yet meandering beauty dependent upon the shifting sun.

  4. “imagine the glass already broken” – zen wisdom

    im right up there with e.e. cummings when it comes to loneliness. but i have the opposite reactions to it. i like being alone. my ideals are so vivid, subtle, and entreched in my persona that it is difficult to accept the real world. these days however im trying to open myself up more to the ways of others because i do in fact want to have people in my life.

    i once told a woman before she was to leave for a far off land when she asked if i was going to miss her, that i don’t miss people. and its true that im still not exactly sure what it means to miss anyone or anything but what i ended up saying because the look on her face required some kind of ameliorating response was that i was missing her already. i meant that while we were together i was missing her so that i wouldnt have to miss her when she was gone because i made efforts to value our time and bring us happiness so i could keep those memories that we created together. i called that missing.

  5. excellent comment Mark- It’s true it’s best to live each moment so fully that you don’t ever need to miss it after it’s gone. No expectation is the sweetest fruit of living fully.

  6. Garnet,
    I think that this is my favorite post. I am speechless. You tap into something that is impossible for many of us to put into words. This may be the proof that language may be adequate for experience.
    I could spend hours in this blog. I would love to see a book…

  7. We are fortunate to have a woman in our music section, a horn player, who has a specialty in postural problems and repetitive stress injuries in musicians. She has helped a lot of mature musicians and advises the young coming into the profession on how to avoid problems.

    I didn’t have a happy childhood, i had no siblings and i was often alone. I was very isolated but I learned how to deal with it and how to become self-sufficient. It isn’t how I choose to live. I love people and like to socialize in groups. But i know there will come a time when those i know and love will begin to fall away and I think I may be able to deal.

    The hardest will be if and when i should lose my Fritz. He has the healing gift of being to enfold me in his arms and erase the hurts and pain life can inflict. All tension just fades away and I know i am where I am loved. If there were only he in the world, I know I would need nobody and nothing else. And i know just how blessed I am.

  8. Hello Will- Nice to see you. The first part of your comment must be in response to my previous post, Attitude, where I think about posture.

    For a long time, I didn’t allow myself to feel lonely. I just moved on. Acknowledging it is not weakness, but instead helps me grow more compassionate as a person.

    I’m glad you appreciate how special Fritz is, and how rare that kind of healing relationship is. Since I don’t have a singular lover, I spread the need for closeness among several good friends. It’s not the same as what you’ve got, but it’s the next best thing.

  9. Dave,
    Wow! Cogent and heartfelt, this is you not just describing emotions, but also observing and choosing how to participate. Love the paradox at the end, “the sweet sadness” that all of us contend with each and everyday.

  10. I’m just beginning to catch up on my blog reading again today, Garnet, and this post has been such a pleasure to read and reread. Thanks for writing.

  11. Yes, when the last person leaves. I know this feeling. Though sometimes I think I regret the last person to go as then I must do the clean-up, and it seems as if I have only just sat down – and sometimes I have. 🙂

    I have one son who hates to be alone under any circumstance, and one who cherishes his “alone time” with his guitar. But…they both love parties, and I have taught both how to help with the clean-up. 🙂

    Wonderfully written as always…I’ve been very busy and it’s nice to know when I have a moent to spare (rare these days) that I can count on you for a thought-provoking and compelling post.


  12. Hello Wenda- Nice to see you again. I’ve been behind as well.

    Teri- I agree about the cleanup, but it’s more than that. It’s the same feeling as when a flower fades, or Summer ends. We can’t live without that kind of saddness in our lives, because it’s what helps us appreciate happiness.

  13. Yes Garnet, I know that feeling also…I was just being a bit funny (flip?). You see, I always want at least one person to hang back, sit with me out on the deck, and just “be” after any dinner party or special occasion. My husband thinks it is because of the clean-up, I know it is because of the “sad” feeling I get when it is all over. But as you say, we need this sadness. It makes it all the more special, when someone calls later and says what a great time they had…or “Remember what so and so did…,” etc. Then I live it all over again…and regain a glimpse of the happiness once again.

    I think four of the saddest words are…”The Party is over.”

    Ciao for now…

  14. Teri- Treacle is so yummy once in awhile. Mushy thoughts for breakfast. Thanks for your fun, flip, yet heartful comments.

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