My feet strike the ground, one after another, as shadows chase me across the pavement. I’m on the run again.
My heart is pounding, breath is heavy and I am fatigued already. I just don’t see how I can keep this up for much longer.
“But I couldn’t just sit there, ” I say to a silent world. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. I’m pushing myself forward, but why? What am I moving away from?
Loneliness is always riding the coattails of my independence.
It’s there, like an extreme skateboarder, waiting to jump in at the most inopportune moment. Loneliness is different from being alone. You can be alone and lonely, but you are not necessarily always lonely when you are alone. You can feel lonely in a group of people.
Loneliness is like a big bad ass Cheshire cat surrounded by colorful smoke and hilarious catchphrases. Except we don’t laugh, because when loneliness has its way with us, it strikes us down to our very core. It drills right through any armor we have and it exposes one of our deepest fears—we are truly alone in this universe.
Boom! Loneliness out.
The Cheshire fades away melodramatically, leaving us to ponder this.
Our fear of being alone blankets us. And like a blanket with two sides, this fear, too, has another side. Afraid of being alone? Search deep down. Pick that fear up and look into its gaping mouth. What else is there? What other fear is swaddled with it?
Once I looked. I took a good long look into this gaping, toothy mouth. I looked until my eyes dried out, and nothing happened. I searched for loneliness’ cradle-mate and did not see it. I sat there, uncomfortable and scared, for a few days. Nothing happened the first time. I went on with my life.
When the Cheshire reappeared again I was ready. I was armed with a few supplies and tools. I had packed a lunch. Oh yes, I sure did. Because baby, I am a stubborn, ballsy mofo. This fear, this elusive fear, was going to come out and I was going to deal with it. I was all ego, baby. All ego.
That lasted for about the first six months of my journey of searching deep. I started to get tired. I started to get weary. So, I put the tools and armor of my ego down and decided to take a nap. I was vulnerable and I just needed a warm bed and a piece of chocolate. Go away world.
In comes a cacophony of loneliness, riding on a parade float, accompanied by several tubas in A minor. But this time there’s something else too, dancing around loneliness like a Chinese New Year dragon. What is it? I squint, trying to see clearer. Is it emptiness? Is it sadness? No. It’s human. I didn’t understand. Fear of being human?
No, a quiet voice says, a fear of not being enough. A fear that no one will ever truly understand or accept us, that at our cores we are flawed.
I flash forward, and see how this fear forms the center from which all other actions spiral outwards. I see how all actions become tender attempts to avoid this fear, to somehow prove it wrong. Maybe if I am a good friend, that will mean that I am good enough. Maybe if I join this movement, it will suddenly redeem me and that fear will be wrong. I see a lifetime of these actions, piling over each other and creating a mountain. I see that quiet voice silently shake its head no. No, this is not the way.
Actions external will not permeate this internal fear. We do not need redemption, we need compassion.
Generate self-compassion. Send it so deep that it soaks into the very socks of this fear that we are not enough and let it heal.
Start with the center. Deal with this fear that you are not enough. Know that you are just enough. You are exactly enough. No question.
When you recalibrate from the inside at such a level you will begin to see shifts and adjustments in the rest of you, as if you visited a cosmic chiropractor.
When you continue at that level, continue to “visit the beginning”—the questions that you ask yourself change, as does your awareness. It’s harder to trick yourself. When your ego asks, “What do I want?” (that chocolate bar; to punch him in the kisser), your spirit pipes up and says, “What do I really, really, really want?” (long-lasting health; to resolve this conflict peacefully).
When we get comfortable with visiting the beginning we can then shift our work externally. We see an entire world made of individuals who probably also fear that they are not enough. We see a world with painful flaws piercing the atmosphere. We see people in need of love.
Just like Shiva and Kali, when you love the world, despite all of her flaws, will it truly begin to heal.
We hear that as a call to action.
I’m running along the river now, and I’m ahead of my running time. Micheal Jackson’s “Beat It” comes on and I slide into the next frame.
Am I lonely or alone? Alone? Al..one? All one? I am all one. Let’s go with that.
Love. Love. Love.
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Ed. Wendy Keslick & Brianna Bemel