Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LONELINESS: The Sense of One

Ever hear about the man who committed suicide? No, you probably did not. On his chest was a soiled piece of paper that had one word written in bold letters “LONELY.” It was striking. It was curious. It was a subject of conversation for several days. What had he meant? Was he lonely or was he implying that everyone else is. Or was he simply expressing an opinion about the state of mind of a society?

Well, whichever point of view one chooses to affirm, one is left with this empty feeling of guilt, compassion, and a repressive sense of being. You see, here I am contemplating something that happened almost a decade ago and yet the memory steals its way back, confounding the present thought and essence of this moment.

I turn my mind to my iPad and click on the Twitter app and off I go into a different universe. A world imagined. A world filled with 140 or less characters expressing a thought or even multiple ones. There is a craze in trying to mash the words, use numbers and via a colon, dash and a bracket create a smile. It is a whole new world. A little upside-down; Sadness is the open bracket while smile is just the opposite, the transition, a click of the key. I look at the steady stream of thoughts that percolates from diverse minds from places far and near. There are people wrestling with their demons and diseases, anger and frustration, fear and strength. Some have ideas to govern the ungovernable and others have ideas to change the world, a much loftier enterprise. And some just rattle on about a sneeze, a cough or simply nothing. It is a steady stream of chaos. It is fascinating! Compelling to say the least. Every nuance and action is shared. Some send pictures of the foods they enjoy, while others send pictures of themselves. Some intellectualize and others try to dumb everything down. It is a sea of humanity and what makes it happy and sad and angry and frustrated and just “be,” is individualism.

I ask myself the question what is driving all of us into this common pathway of word-stream? I am here too. What makes me do something like this? Why, when I can read a book, listen to music or chat with my family, why, oh why must I want to click into being, these electronic energies and time-robbing gremlins of the twitterverse? Why indeed?

Maybe it is the embedded knowledge in other people’s expressed opinion, I try to rationalize. Maybe it is the diversity of thought. Or maybe it is the exact opposite and their implied disdain for my thoughts or its acceptance or complete lack of interest or whatever, but whatever it is, it is magnetic like bees to a flower. What alerts my senses is when my @JediPD button is lit up and I know that some one has communicated with me. I realize then, that there is a need, in me and possibly as in most others, to communicate. To have a sense of belonging, a sense of togetherness, a sense of communication, a camaraderie of sorts, a dialog full with meaning-something that twitter simply cannot provide but only infers. But on the converse side there are scores of people right next to me who easily fill that need already. What gives?

Maybe it is in the loneliness of this electronic togetherness, in this quasi-communicative form, filled with numbers, letters and ampersands that a desire to create another world of free-floating thought amongst a diverse group of individuals represented by avatars and pseudonyms that drives this thought train- to feel the pulse of the unmet, unknown, and unseen. Strange psychology of the mind this is, a corrupted sense of being and existence, don’t you think? It reminds me of that train ride again when, I saw several kids clumped together in two opposing seats. All of them spent the two-hour ride peering at the glow of their smart phone screens. They never said, “boo” to each other. All the while there were snickers, giggles and outright laughter from amongst them but nary a word shared. Have I become one of them?

Maybe, I have because, another event unfolded in front of me, while walking the street in Manhattan the other day, a woman caught my attention. No, no she was very much alive. She was disheveled. Her hair grayed and knotted fell to her shoulders. The clothes, if one can call them that were a rag tag collection of sewed together pieces of fabric, misshapen, misaligned and with the only purpose to cover her boney body underneath. You got the view of her slender arms as they shot out from beneath her cloaked body touching anyone nearby. She had a frown on her face mostly. She was asking anyone near her, “can you please tell me what time it is?” The concern on her face deep with anxiety as if she was missing an important meeting or catching a train. Her face changed for a fraction of a second when someone looked at her and then their watch and answered her. She would then repeat the procedure to the next passerby. One would think she needed a psychiatric evaluation and maybe she did but what got me was that fleeting smile or smirk or whatever it was that graced her unwashed face for that brief moment, when she made a connection with another human that changed her momentarily. Was she lonely. I think so. Don’t you?

Is that the message that man was trying to communicate? We are alone, in thought, in ideas, and fears and frustrations of the mind and we only fill one side of the dialog when we communicate. We are hoping for the other side to respond and in that response is the pull, the need and the magnetism that compels us. We fill our days to belong, to be together, knowing that life even with the closest of companions and soul mates is lived in the isolation of thought, which remains singular. That we are indeed alone and that we try to create new worlds to fill that emptiness is the crushing sense of loneliness that man who committed suicide must have felt. I hope not for all our sakes. Ok enough, let me get back to my tweeting.

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