Loneliness has been a recurring theme in my life, woven around the idle hours and the numbing thoughts, like a spider web catching the prey for its wanderer to feed on. Over the years I’ve seen the many flavours of loneliness; I dreaded the bitterness of having your trust broken and feeling betrayed, I’ve admired it as a medium of inspiration and reflection and I’ve gone so far as to pledge that I would do anything in my power to never feel lonely again. I slowly realised that there is something deeper to loneliness than just the fleeting sentiment of sorrow and desperation, something that is, perhaps, essential to the human being and can never be fathomed or resolved, nor should it be.
When you look at yourself in the mirror before going to bed late at night, or when you let yourself wallow in nostalgia while taking in the rich colours of the sky, there is a very distinct sensation, almost eerie, but comforting nonetheless. It is something indescribable, organic, something that I like to call ‘aloneness’: an awareness that you are essentially alone, that you have access to only one consciousness, one mind and that everything surrounding you is just a rendering happening in your head. I like to think that aloneness accompanies humans like a shadow, hiding behind when the sun shines brightly ahead of them and appearing slowly after the humans leave the sun behind, instilling a sense of self-awareness as if it hadn’t been there all along.
What most people perceive as loneliness, I think, is this newfound aloneness, more obvious and aggressive than ever. Like a shadow, loneliness is what you make of it: you can shrug it off, go about your day as if it isn’t there and wait for the sun to appear yet again before you. You can turn it into your canvas, use it to create shapes so beautiful and touching that they leave humans and their children alike in awe for centuries. Or, you can give it so much meaning and scrutiny, you start acting like you are the one following the shadow, and not the other way around.
Oftentimes, children are bewildered by shadows. This obscure, dark figure tracing the contour of your skin seems tangible at first, but simply follows your movements once you try to touch it. Though as you grow older and as you see it more and more, you progressively become acquainted with it to the point that it is a comfortable encounter: the wise man knows the sun can burn your eyes if you stare at it for too long. And so the globetrotter follows their treacherous path alongside the faithful shadow, knowing that it isn’t worth turning around and retracing your steps just to have the sun face you again. They know the shadow has been there all along and knowing that gives them a sense of familiarity and serenity, as the shadow becomes an integral part of their journey.
Sometimes you see the shadow and you stare at it and it feels like it will never go away. Though, it always does if you’re willing to move closer to the sun.
By Natalie Anghel
Image: by Andreas Jaeppche via Flickr