“Now you must go out into your heart as onto a vast plain. Now the immense loneliness begins.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
There is a certain truth to the fact that life is lonely. Even for a girl like me — who loves more than one, and juggles google calendars and minimum sleep requirements for the lovers I’m lucky to have — there are more lonely hours than I care to admit. The best laid plans for afternoon phone calls, for dinner dates or weekend hotel reservations can swiftly become discouragement, no matter how logical the reason for cancellation.
I can morph from a giddy school-girl to a jaded and pessimistic woman, faster than I care to admit. Time with each of my lovers is precious, and a change of plans can bring flights of euphoria crashing rapidly to the ground. I suppose it’s just part of being a human… being here, on this planet with other humans. Disappointment is a fact.
Often I’m reminded my life is real. This is no fairy-tale, and I need to put on my big-girl panties, to deal with it. I need to deal too, with the underlying issues disappointment can uncover. My reaction to this latest unplanned aloneness is a red flag, reminding me to face some hard truths. Today’s is this: What I’m seeking — affirmation, value, growth, purpose, and countless similar things — cannot be found in those I love. To find these in myself, I have to be still; I have to be okay, being alone.
I must rise in the morning, and face the reflection in my mirror. I must listen to the clamoring voices in my heart. I must learn to be who I am, standing alone, with none other to credit or blame. Until I can sit silently with myself, without frantically searching for the television remote, or checking social media just one more time to fill the silence, I will always feel lonely.
For, that’s what this panic is: a response to fear, of silence, of aloneness, of too many questions, and of discovering that when I am all that I have — or all I have to offer another — I am not enough. Until I can relax with myself, and feel the same sort of contentment I feel lying silently in bed next to a lover, reading a book while he or she works the crossword, I cannot say that I am whole, or that I love as I ought.
The truth is, I spend much of my time alone. As a writer and poet, my daylight hours are spent in very solitary pursuits, but I am not truly alone with myself. The emails and status updates are like a crowd of people, all shouting my name. The laundry and the package delivery person are my distractions from solitude. The truth is, my soul longs to sit quietly in the sunlight, to meditate and breathe. My fingers ache to simply write out my soul, without struggle or procrastination.
I fight these demons, every day, fight myself as she keeps silence at bay. But I believe that Rilke is right. I think he knew that he must go out to face himself, his own loneliness, and the silence, to ever truly learn to live. I think I’m learning from his truth. Today, I chose to sit and listen, to spill my ink and follow my pen. Today I let the quiet teach me how to be quiet, so I could see the world with a poet’s eyes.
image credit: http://sierra-autumn.blogspot.com/