We all feel lonely from time to time, and I was kind of wallowing in it the other day. You know the drill: I feel so disconnected. No one gets me. No one really cares. Then it moved on to the philosophical: I am alienated from my true self. We are trapped in our own consciousness. We are awash in a vast sea of cosmic emptiness, peering into the abyss. It was a raging pity party, with my background in Existentialism as my enabler. Wasn’t it Kierkegaard who whined, “People understand me so poorly that they don’t even understand my complaint about them not understanding me”?
He wasn’t alone. Famous celebrities and authors with millions of adoring fans feel alone. Claire Danes: “Acting is the greatest answer to my loneliness that I have found.” Jonathan Safran Foer: “Why do I write? It’s not that I want people to think I am smart, or even that I am a good writer. I write because I want to end my loneliness.”
Is loneliness all bad? It certainly seems inescapable at times, and maybe there’s a bright side. John Paul Sartre thought so: “Hell is other people.”
I started to think more about loneliness, and I was reminded about why human existence requires, indeed, thrives on it in many ways.