I wrote an article this week for one of my freelance gigs about loneliness. It's a tricky emotion. We all experience it at one time or another, and yet when we are in it, it makes us feel isolated, like no one else could possibly understand.
Alone, might just be the thing we are most afraid of.
One of my childrens' familiar complaints is, "Mama! I'm alone in here!" No matter where I go, they pick up their legos or building blocks and move to wherever I am, like little moons unable to escape my gravitational pull. They orbit around me.
When we grow, we are pulled by other forces- friends, relationships, careers. Anything but the limitless expanse of dark space.
To be tethered to something is a comfort. Even Tom Hanks had Wilson. In the midst of aloneness, we have to invent a partner to interact with lest we be sucked up by that black hole of loneliness.
Even the fear of death, at its heart, is really about being alone; being separated from those we love, being sent into an unknown void. Maybe there is an afterlife, but we still have to venture there alone, leaving those we love behind.
So loneliness- the crushing weight of it, the cold despair- might be the most primal, the most human, of all emotions.
We are, as science confirms, social creatures. We depend on each other not just for amusement, friendship, or a functioning society, but as a rope pulling us from the quicksand.
If it's loneliness we fear, then it's connectedness we desire. So that even when we are by ourselves, in an empty house with not even a television to distract us, we might grasp an invisible thread that leads to another being— that he will soon be home from work; that she will hear your silent prayer; that love is the rope that can save us from the void.