Alone is a Killer

“What did you do for New Year’s?” 

My fellow server, who had gone to Montreal for New Year’s, inquired. In response to my answer of staying home, she proceeded to ask if I was alone?   “How can I be alone in a world overpopulated with 6 billion people?”  She gave me a dry look as she usually does when I give her one of those answers.  So then she asked, was I lonely seeing that I had spent the evening without anyone’s company? Hmmmmm, the answer is still no. I wasn’t lonely.  In keeping with her line of questioning, she asked me if I ever get lonely?  Damn, I thought, what’s up with the inquisition from the solitude police? Can I not enjoy my own company? Nor is this a reference to the delights of the five knuckle shuffle.

      I started to laugh which only raised her ire a little bit more; I guess she figured I was mocking her questions.  I knew the source and reasoning behind her inquiries for it was not the first time someone had asked me this.

Toronto’s an interesting place, inhabited by at least 3 million people; loneliness seems to be the companion of many, even those within large social circles.  Another lady, who has been in the city for a few years and frequents the restaurant, gave the same endorsement of Toronto.  She considered Toronto to be cold, regardless of the season and she was from the Czech Republic.   As my thoughts began to wander, my friend brought me back to reality with a “Well, do you ever get lonely?’ reminder. 

“Ahhh, loneliness, how would I know who I am without you.”

There was definitely a time when I was lonely, hell I was reminded of it every day on the subway reading this subtle but profound poem whose meaning took on greater magnitude as the days passed.  And at one point, I made a personal choice to be lonely too.  I went to movies by myself.  I drove to Niagara falls, went skating solo and yes, one New year’s eve, I even went down to City Hall  celebrations by myself , a stranger in a distant yet close world, comparatively speaking.

“Loneliness is a killer,”

is a quote from a song by Seal. Yes, indeed, loneliness literally kills people. Ever see what happens to a widowed spouse as their will to live is slowly extinguished at being left alone?  Yet, for those not in that position, loneliness is still a killer because of a negative connation associated with it.

 Socially the question to ponder is, why is there such a stigma placed on loneliness for the individual who doesn’t devote their lives to a religious cult? It seems that then loneliness is acceptable because you’re sacrificing a part of your life for the greater good, but what’s the greater good?  And honestly what can you learn and not learn in both situations?

Can the killing perspectives of loneliness be positive?  How about if archaic notions that hinder one’s growth dissolve in extinction to allow one to evolve and move forward in life?  I mean, do monks die of solitude? The real question on a personal level is why is it so difficult to be lonely, especially when it’s a personal journey of discovery?  Loneliness in this perspective is a healer. I crave solitude now. Especially if I’ve had too much contact with a world that is so unbalanced.  In keeping with irony, how often do we lament about not having enough ‘me’ time?  Yet when presented with the opportunity, we will cry about the exact opposite.    

     It’s like I’ve come full circle because there was a point in my life where I wanted to have friends and lots of them too. Maybe I had a delayed bout of psychosocial development and required greater kinship as I moved from high school to university.  Now, as the circle appears to close, it actually expands ever so gently and outward in silent lucidity.  Care to join me in loneliness?


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