The deluge came out in the general direction of Ridgefield artist Randi Jane Davis this past weekend at City-Wide Open Studios. Her painting (above), called “Three Blind Men” (in private collection) wasn’t the only wonderful piece of work I’d seen that day.
But it was the one that reignited my feelings about aloneness.
So Ms. Davis and I discussed the atmosphere of the painting (and the subway and the city) as a place of isolation… but I kept going into the thoughts that had been swirling lately.
I am alone. There isn’t any solution to that so-called “problem.” It isn’t even a problem. At least, not that fact. It is what it is.
What is a problem (or can be) is how I — in the context of my culture — respond to the creeping awareness of aloneness.
But that is less interesting to me, really, than the discovery of what aloneness means.
Wide Open Spaces
I loved the Tube in London. For me, it was a place to connect with people — people seemingly unaware of their external vibe in the moment. They were inside themselves: reading, with music, staring into space, snoozing. (this was before smartphones).
I felt always a sense of empathic JOY to be with these people. It wasn’t the closeness to them that made me happy — it was how far away they were. Here I was, just a few feet from dozens of people, yet really we were millions of miles apart.
Inside each person I felt the possibility of a wild, unexplored, totally private landscape.
I suppose I felt if I looked at them, maybe I could glimpse another universe. To me, stargazing held wonder, but nowhere near as fascinating as the unexplored life here on this planet — the internal dynamics of the mind that make us so similar, yet so incomprehensible and unpredictable.
I Feel You
Ms. Davis’s painting transported me back to my seat on the Tube, across from these three men — “men” in name and so-called gender, but traveling in complete separateness.
Is it ok to say that, in aloneness is where I see beauty? That it is where I understand freedom?
For me, the unattachment that the Buddhist teaches is in a way, this aloneness. Not loneliness — that’s when aloneness is a “problem” — but the awareness that that the self is a construction, with only one author.
I don’t come by this revelation easily: it means I often feel like a bad friend, a narcissist, a selfish parent, a masquerading extrovert who dives inside herself at some moment of convenience.
By no means do I advocate the “wallow” per se. However…
I do think it doesn’t harm a person to go there. To disappear into the self and enjoy the wilds.
It’s seems necessary to recognize the aloneness and say: hey this is me. I’m what I came in with and what I’ll go out with.
But let’s not fall too easily on the cliche. Because I think it dismisses the import of alone as a place of travel in the world. How we get from end to end. And that’s the power of it too.
If by feeling alone, I am
Then able to walk upright,
I can then face the
Reflections, and, if then, able to
Take truth of myself, which
Changes as I know, depending on
The reflections — or truths — of
The Other and the World’s
Impressions on me. But if I am
Not even aware that I do
Go it alone, if I am in the
Dark and always groping
(Which is ok, but wait),
Then all the me which I feel
I am exists in the ether-other and
The me I truly am
Is, still, and yet
Holds fast and waiting for
A turn to stand.
I have to fight the “ether-other,” those messages from the outside which are actual but not real— the never-ending feed of noise and interference from daily live and the machines.
There’s no choice but to rescue oneself.
That’s the project for now, a creative mission that feeds the soul.
The modern-day-Whac-a-Mole life needs tending in order to set the One and Only free.