We allllllllll experience loneliness. You are not alone. Breathe deep and smile if you have to.
“I am sad, today, so sad I fear I make others sad in my path, but my sadness is not badness…” ~ Things I Would Like to Do with You.
Yesterday I felt so desperately sad, alone, a failure: I’m not good at this life thing in the way my friends, and all those strangers at the farmers’ market are. Everyone looks so happy, from the outside. And I’m happy for them, but I can’t help but notice that I’m alone.
Today, I woke up in the same circumstances, but I feel happy.
So what is this loneliness, this sadness that chills our heart, sometimes, and without much warning?
Buddhism teaches that loneliness, even depression, is not a fundamental problem. In fact, they are part of our human condition. Yes, we need to work with loneliness—by keeping our hearts open.
As George Saunders put it: “Anything is possible. Stay open, forever. So open, it hurts and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end. Amen.”
Or, as Chogyam Trungpa put it, in “Shambhala,” a book I read each morning:
“The genuine heart of sadness comes from feeling that your nonexistent heart is full. You would like to spill your heart’s blood, give your heart to others. For the warrior this experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means you are not afraid or that if someone hits you, you will hit him back.
However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness.
Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.”
Loneliness is okay. In fact, it’s the feeling of our beautiful raw vulnerable heart, finally open. Don’t close.
Because we can’t get rid of loneliness. We can only open it up to sunshine and healing fresh air.
So: don’t take the sadness personally—you didn’t do anything wrong. It’ll be okay. It really will. Just breathe. Love yourself.
And if you insist on seeking external happiness, seek to root that happiness in your heart.
True happiness is maitri.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: courtesy of Waylon Lewis