Thoughts on Aloneness

Not my thoughts, for once, but some put together by Craig Mod has he prepares to walk the width of Tokyo (found via Kottke). A lot of what he wrote resonated. I’ve said before that there’s a difference between loneliness and being alone, and between solitude and isolation. While we may differ on definitions (the type of aloneness he describes I’d describe as loneliness), he definitely gets it.

Aloneness sucks. It’s insidious and becomes habitual. It’s rapacious. It saps the spirit. It twists a peaceful dude all truculent and paranoid. It renders decision making oddly cumbersome. It’s more difficult to feel elevated as a human when swaddled in aloneness. Self-worth plummets as aloneness rises.

And aloneness as a default is tremendously difficult for some folks to understand.

For many, being surrounded by big families or long-term partners is so normalized, that to empathize with someone who is deep in aloneness (which I distinguish from solitude or quietude, more volitional and opted-into states) is akin to imagining what it’s like to fart your way to the moon.

Craig Mod

And then later:

I still feel a deep and terrifying aloneness — mostly when when I’m worn down. But now I can slightly detach myself from it, tell myself that we’ve felt this before, that we’ve come out of it, and believe in that pending emergence. If I admit to a friend that I’m experiencing these grueling bouts of crushing aloneness, I often get responses like: How can you feel alone?! You have so many people in your corner and support and love and friends! This is a terrible response. (But I know well meaning!) Aloneness and depression go hand in hand, and for someone not depressed, the idea of your body weighing ten thousand pounds, of wearing that lead cloak, of not being able to get out of bed in the morning, is unthinkable, unfathomable. So, too, with that sense of aloneness. How can you feel alone? How can you feel so isolated and hopeless?

Craig Mod

This is something that I think is important to note: when we say stuff like this, we’re not trying to brush things off as “oh, you wouldn’t understand” — that’s really not the point. The point is that, like so many lived experiences, the reality of the experience is hard to articulate in a way that actually gives enough context for someone who hasn’t experienced it. It’s hard to grok something that is as abstract and arbitrary as feelings and experiences that are almost entirely inside someone else’s head.

Thanks for sharing, Craig. I hope your walk goes really well.