Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, August 30, 2010

I’m Mister Lonely

In one Fabcast we recorded two months ago (pramis, that one will be released very, very soon), all of us Fabcasters were single at that time, and so the topic was on singlehood. There was this one particular exchange that caught my attention while I was editing the Fabcast.

Someone asked what one could do to prevent being lonely when one is single. My answer was to learn to be friends with one’s self and to keep myself busy.

Migs decided to challenge that answer to deepen the discussion. He asked, “But isn’t that just a distraction? In the end you’re still sorry old farts.”

My reply was, if I didn’t consider myself a sorry old fart for being able to be friends with myself, then it’s not a problem for me.

Corporate Closet’s answer to the question was different. He said that being single doesn’t prevent someone from going and still loving. He cited the example of volunteerism, especially in Church. Migs particularly liked how CC framed the answer, that it’s to “find something meaningful to you and that’s how you share yourself to others.”

Then Tony threw the question back at them: “But what do you think about people saying that’s just a diversion?”

CC’s answer was similar to my defense. If he’s happy volunteering and doing what’s meaningful to him, then he doesn’t have a problem with it.

* * * * *

While editing that particular Fabcast, I found myself thinking back again and again to that particular exchange. And I realized we were approaching the problem from two different directions.

As most of us know, loneliness is different from being alone. Loneliness is defined as “dejected by the awareness of being alone” ( or “a feeling of depression resulting from being alone” ( Of course, “alone” here is not limited to being physically solitary; one can also be “alone in a crowded room.”

So to address loneliness, the logical solution is to find a way to convert “being alone” (which is an isolation from others) to “being with others,” or better yet, “being with the Other” (wherein “Other” with a capital “O” is either someone significant or some Higher Being). Makes sense, right?

But is that the only way?

My approach comes from another angle. One cannot totally control the state of being alone (for example, one may be stranded on a deserted island alone, and not of your own volition). But one has control over one’s feelings. So why not address that which is totally within our capability to control? Instead of being depressed or dejected when one is alone, work instead to turn that around and instead discover the joys of being alone.

Better yet, find the solution within oneself and not depend on others. You see, one has no control over others, but one has control over oneself. Of course, we’re human, and we’re entitled to our feelings, including occasional bouts of loneliness. But if one masters oneself, then one can avoid being paralyzed by loneliness even if one is alone.

Listening once again to our discussion, I realized that indeed, volunteerism is even more of the distraction, nay, a diversion, because there one just substituted the (significant) “Other” with “otherS.” You can’t love one person? Then love many.

My problem with that is, well, I did precisely that. I poured my attention to others, to my family and friends. And now I am close to my family, and I have great friends. But it still didn’t change the fact that I was single. And that feeling gnawing inside of me remained because that distraction did not address what was basically an internal issue.

So I asked myself: What’s wrong with learning to love oneself first? What’s wrong with learning to live with oneself first? After all, even if our significant other is holding our hand tightly while we lay in our deathbed, the moment Death comes, you face him alone. Our longest relationship is with ourselves; the more meaningful we make it, the more fruitful our longest relationship will be.

And the greatest irony of it all? By being at peace with oneself, one is able to give more to others, because that is genuine altruism and not just a smokescreen to distract from the loneliness.

In someone else’s blog entry on love stories, the author wrote: For those looking for someone who’ll make them smile. I commented: I believe we must all learn how to make ourselves smile. Then it becomes easier for us to make others smile.

Learn to be lonely,
Learn how to live Life that is lived alone.
Learn to be lonely,
Life can be lived, Life can be loved alone.


rudeboy said...

"By being at peace with oneself, one is able to give more to others, because that is genuine altruism and not just a smokescreen to distract from the loneliness."

Hear, hear.

And damn that Thou Shalt Not Copy widget &@*(#*(79 It just makes it harder for a commenter to quote the author.

WV: joutot


joelmcvie said...

Sorry about that, Rudeboy. But really, that widget has a flaw, and I found out what it is.

Jeez, you're still awake at 3:13am?

rudeboy said...

"Jeez, you're still awake at 3:13am?"

That makes two of us, sir.

Restless and just a tad angsty.

In other words, the sun set in the west today.

joelmcvie said...

Aaahhh. I should remind myself to always think global these days.

Oh, I hope you noticed that I added a paragraph to my original post.

closet case said...

you cannot give what you do not have.

my "solution" to loneliness is predicated on a true love of self first and foremost. it has to be there. there has to be an authentic embracing of one's self, flaws, regrets and all. and a certain comfort in enjoying solitary time.

but after that, we will have to go out of ourselves and continue to radiate that love. sadly, a lot of people believe that their outpouring of love is meant only for TOFM. i believe otherwise. just start giving love away. because the are just too many people out there in need of it.

i believe that there will already be a sense of completeness and fulfillment once this is accomplished so much that waiting for TOFM may not be as agonizing as before.

and when one least expects it, love appears.

just like in your case. you have beensuch a great friend to countless people, me included. to a point where having a lover was no longer a desperate need, but a nice to have. with all the love you gave away, mcvie, you were now ready for love to stay.

simplistic maybe. hopeful yes. only because i went through the same thing.

joelmcvie said...

Hu-well, hu-well, hu-well said, Miss CC!

*clap! clap!*
*clap! clap! clap!*
*clap! clap! clap! clap!*
(slowly at first, then getting faster as I stand up)

TBR said...

yes, BUT

a friend once told me: our tragedy is that we've become experts at being alone. you know, that i've learned how to be happy by myself. i used to say ha! good for me! i still do sometimes. but is that a good thing, really? or a fatal flaw? sometimes i think those people who just can't live without a partner may be on to something. they seem to be embracing (and feeling) a kind of life i'll never know, probably because i've "learned" to. is it a death of some kind of innocence? did we kill it?

joelmcvie said...

@TBR: It really depends on your set of values. If you choose to live one life then naturally you will miss out on another life. And another. And so forth.

Unless that's what reincarnation's for.

palma tayona said...

another antidote to loneliness is what all artists know and actively do - art. whether it be written, oral or the visual/plastic arts, it provides a mental/spiritual 'outlet' where one can fully pour our his/her emotions into a definite form. hence, there is 'transference' of emotions from being merely a feeling that can eat one up from the inside into the viability of expressing it out and reducing the pain that loneliness brings. :-)

palma tayona said...

i am not sure if you have seen this, but i find this short film and the words behind it wistful and charmingly simple.

i know it's not about loneliness, but many of us simply forget how to be alone. it's a charming lesson. :-)

Thad said...

Man by nature is a social animal. We need to be with other people and we need to have good relationships with others because interpersonal relationships matters just as much as our intra-personal relationship. In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, after physiologic needs and safety and security, Love and Belongingness comes next. It even comes before self-esteem and self-actualization- meaning the way our families (our first social interactions) treat us starting from the time we were infants to childhood and adolescence, have great effects to our formation as individuals. A child with poor relationships during his childhood would most likely have low self-esteem.

It is in our nature to want to be with others. Whether it is an altruistic interaction such as volunteering for a cause or starting an intimate relationship with someone- it fulfills our need for love and belongingness. Even if we do have different levels of relationship (from casual friendships to great intimacy between married couples or even let's say an anonymous tryst) the bottomline is that humans need to connect with others to live fulfilling lives.