On Accepting Loneliness

Can you spot the spider's web?

Sometimes I walk into the woods with a mind full of noisy thoughts. Each step I take amplifies the thoughts even louder. But then, the nature has its own way to soothe my troubled mind. The quietude of tall trees and wet grasses, the voice of wind and leaves, the friction of my shoes onto the ground, and the drizzle of rain on my panting face. They have molded my mind’s inclination no books have ever taught me. As I carry my 60-liter backpack, the burden on my shoulder dwindles into the wilderness.

Being alone with my own thoughts is significantly different with when I am alone with books, reading. When I am absorbed into a book, I am dived into someone’s thoughts and being directed to and by their way of thinking. Admitted or not, it influences me either consciously or subconsciously. However, when I am alone with my thoughts, I feel like giving so much free space and power to my mind to direct themselves to stumble upon anything they find interesting or dull. The feeling is similar to writing on my journal that helps me greatly reflect through my own writing.

Nature nurtures my thoughts as if they are part of it. That is why I am forever in debt to the nature that helps me dealing with my suffering. It provides a sanctuary so that I would feel most intimate with my own thoughts. Intimacy brings comforts and it lets inexplicable thoughts scatter around the corner of my mind.

Have yesterday’s tears dried out?
Are my feet not tired enough from walking?
Where does this life end if not to the certainty of death?
Is gratitude something we usually find far from people?

My thinking flows like river yearning for the ocean to meet. Sometimes I get lost in the current of my own thoughts, but other times I found myself enjoying swimming in there.

Pondering all the things pertaining my perception on how the reality is served in front of me feels like kindling a candle in the middle of the pitch-black dark. Thinking keeps me interested in doing mundane routines. It is like a fire lit by a drought. Some friends of mine have told me that my thinking can be extremely exhausting or overwhelming. No wonder because when I get with them, I sometimes let my thoughts trickle out. When that happened, I could get too nihilistic about nearly anything especially the pointlessness of living and imminent death even on a casual setting. Those two latter topics were not everybody’s favorite cup of tea. Talking about death, uncertainty, sadness, anxiety, and wearisome subjects in life are considered taboo and depressing to some people. Some people rather go blind on these matters.

Little did I know it was one of my coping mechanism to overcome the great unknown of uncertainty and fixated life insecurity. I usually kept on emphasizing that life is futile as a reminder of myself. And I had my own petty way to subtly impose these vexing topics on a daily conversation, not realizing it dragged the mood of the entire crowd down.

Realizing that I was not fun at a party, I resorted to two things: adjusting myself to their norms or drowning in my own solitude. I wouldn’t be na├»ve by bringing out just be who you are and everything will be fine. That chant sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Politeness and mannerism do matter in social life and I reckoned it like the back of my hand. So we need to be polite for the sake of ourselves respecting the environment, not longing for others to accept us.

I once tried to subside my thoughts to a level I wouldn’t care about what my mind had to say until I learned that it is essentially part of me that I can’t take off all the time because I like to think. Like a lot. Drowning into my own solitude feels so much easier and more joyful than adjusting with people’s standardized norms.

As time goes by I feel I have much better self-control and still learn to hone it. I learn to filter my own thoughts and pick which one is suitable with a certain occasion and condition. I found out that the combination of adjusting my thoughts and liking my solitude is an ample encouragement to make me stay afloat. I can mingle with my friends for some time and go to a seclusive place afterwards just to let my thoughts wander where nobody listens. There, I often glass myself and question, is this what I used to call hypocrisy? Well, I don’t know for sure. If it is, I would have never conformed to some certain norms or values unsuitable for me only for the sake of people’s unattainable acceptance and validity. Every single person pretends at least once in their life: pretending being strong, being in love, being fragile, being fine, being lost, being smart, being stupid, etc. Pretending is indeed exhausting and seeking people’s acceptance takes a heavy toll on our energy.

For the past five years I have been indulging in knowing myself better both on how I relate with my own solitude and how I position myself in the crowds particularly with my family and friends. It also affects how I perceive the meaning of an intimate relationship.  When I get around people, I switch off my heavy-minded mode because I value their existence and respect their social preferences. Even so, some tiny amount of my thoughts infiltrate but people are most of time unaware of it, so it is okay to loosen up a single or two thoughts out of my control. Some of you might refer me to find another group of friends that perfectly fit my frequency like birds of the same feather flock together, as if only human relationship is as simple as finding the same right vibe. Don’t get me wrong. Finding a better crowd won’t fix you unless you start to accept themselves the way they accept you.

What I still clearly remember that I think I have harvested a glimpse of the answer I have been looking for some days in 2017. I used to be faraway from my family and friends as I several times traveled and stayed physically out of touch from them. I was doing fine. But these moments in 2017 I had never felt so distant from anyone I knew. I was in Australia and felt left behind. I used to feel so alone but never lonely. But that time I had never felt so lonely in my life I cried my eyes out. I reached out to some of my friends but I didn’t feel better. I thought they didn’t get me. But then I realized, how can I ask people to understand me if I myself have trouble in understanding myself first?

I always feel that the emptiness and loneliness in my chest is something permanently plastered which comes and goes with my conscious permission. Therefore it has nothing to do with anyone but myself. Since I was the one who needed to bring a deeper conversation with myself, I decided to go somewhere on my own every time I felt lonely. I went to nearby nature lookouts, national parks, forests, reservoirs, beaches, or city parks. I tried to examine which part of myself that loathed my being alone and which side of myself that was afraid of being lonely. Being able to sit together in silence with my inner self and see myself how I have grown makes me endear myself. It might sound absurd, but it feels right. At placid places where most people will feel lackadaisical and lonely, I found content, gratitude, and not lonely.

In 2019 many unexpected life events happened. Well from 2017 to 2019 many things have happened as well: the ups and downs; misery and happiness. Those times are important for my self-discovery and acceptance. But 2019 has taught me abundant new lessons. Well, life has a pack of endless syllabus for us to learn. One of the most important lessons was to keep on accepting some things are beyond my control. Early in 2019 I had planned to spend the whole year to backpack while figuring out my next plan, but I was pulled back home after merely few months being away from home. I spent the rest of the year getting back on my own feet. I tried to restructure my time, connect with my friends, and do some work projects as well as personal ones. I thought I had prepared for the worst, but when life threw me the worst it had, I was paralyzed I didn’t even think I was prepared enough. I could hear from a far that life obscurely laughed at my naivety.

And I laughed at myself as well.

Suddenly time moved fast forward to the last day of 2019. I spent the day with my friends by hiking and camping at a nearby nature lookout. There were four of us. We had planned this long time as we never went out together. It was raining all day long and we were blanketed by thick mist. I was drenched in rain as I pitched the tent. My friends were one by one entering the tent and dry their belonging. Afterwards I went inside and cooked some meals while talking about many random things. The rain had dissipated as the night approached. I went to the highest area with my friend and saw the fireworks in the sky. The fireworks reminded me of how I spent previous New Year’s Eve. The same debilitating sound, different places and fireworks.

We pretty much enjoyed the nature

Not long after that we went back to our tent as the night poured some rainy again. We made hot drinks. Then one of us ignited a pep talk about how 2019 went for each of us and what we hope in 2020. Even though we have been friends for long it was a rare occasion that we talked deeply when we were together like this. We took our time to think of the answer as well as to answer the questions. The question felt so personal as we needed to answer it in turn. I listened to their answer attentively while trying to compose my own answer.

Then it was my turn. I tried to harbor my thoughts with my shaky voice,

“I feel content that in 2019 I still have a chance to live, breath, enjoy my own companionship and be able to spend a moment with you guys. I am grateful that I can start opening up to you about many things. I am also grateful to have friends like you guys. I am grateful that I can feel the smallest things as a blessing and celebrate little things mostly forgotten; the tears running down my cheek and the laughter on my face. For the next year I simply hope we all become the better version of ourselves and be able to reach whatever our dreams are.”  

I went out to see the fireworks for the last time and savored the moment alone. After a while the fireworks had stopped debilitating my ears and I continued joining conversation with the rest of the group inside the tent. We were talking and laughing about trivial things while sipping a hot coffee and snacking some veggies nuggets. It was almost one in the morning we decided to jump into our sleeping bags. Before I closed my eyes, a thought came into me.

Let's keep being faithful that whatever happens to us is the best scenario written by The Great Director. Even though we have been familiar with the sensation of hopelessness, we will feel like our determination to suffer reticently is tested over and over. So here we are, subjugated to His Might, as a creation to The Creator. Because we are merely nothing but minuscule existence in the entire universe, that's why we take pledge in surrendering ourselves. And if by suffering takes us closer to whom we belong, let's pray to God, to give us formidable strength to endure the sufferance.

The heavy burden put on our shoulder doesn’t exceed our ability to bear.