It was years ago, in university, I remember a professor commenting that we come into life alone, go out alone and that no one is ever really able to enter our experiences with us. His point was that existential loneliness is a fact of human life. I have not felt the truth of this so clearly as in the last few years. I have spent many moments in the isolating walls of my house, alone with my child, alone with motherhood, alone with the domestic duties that seem laid upon me by cold and distant societal expectations.
It’s not that my life is not filled with the love of many beautiful people. I am amazed by the presence of the love that surrounds me. And yet, I am continually astounded that when I sit in awe of a sunset no one can ever know how that awe feels inside of me. And when I sit in my own angst it is only mine to suffer. It is those moments when the inner Witness becomes more than an avenue for self-observation – it becomes a friend to the loneliness. It holds our solitary experiences like the sky holds clouds – unconditionally, without grasp, without expectation. It holds it in Love.
But, this love doesn’t alleviate the loneliness. Instead, it offers it a room in the mansion of the soul, allowing it to be a guest in our human experience, rather than solely a burden to endure. Our tendency is to fill up the experience of loneliness with meaningless fodder to escape its pain. Befriending it is the gracious act of saying “you are welcome here too”. And as it lay down before our inner hearth, it reminds us of our immense fragility and tremendous strength – the paradoxical gift of existence.
And while we may never know the experience of another’s grief or celebration it is this fact in itself that we do share commonly. We all bear the same aloneness. And in rare moments of friendship’s most gracious offering we can befriend this aloneness in one another. We can witness each another in our fragility and strength and for a moment live the meaning of Namaste:
“I honour the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. It is a place of love and of truth, of light and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me – we are One”.
And for a moment, loneliness fades to unity, suffering to liberation – until the great wheel of separation begins to cycle once again.
Namaste, my companions in loneliness. Please remember that in this moment you are also of love, truth, light and peace.