Sitting by the pond, I watched the fish wag its back fins back and forth. It moved in a circle, searching for something but not really looking. It just aimlessly moved, passing the time, living in a world of its own.
Not far from the fish were other fish, in a group, searching together. However, the one fish by itself did not even attempt to move to where they were. It’s as if it enjoyed being alone but hated it at the same time.
Loneliness can sometimes be a sword that cuts both ways. It is necessary and lovely at times. At other times, it’s like someone is weakly choking you. That’s what loneliness can feel like.
The world has been going through a pandemic. You have been through a pandemic. It was tough, it was scary, but you made it. Whether you did it alone or with someone, you made it. You will always make it if you choose to. My point is, although loneliness is both good and bad, depending on your view and what that loneliness brings, you will make it. The pandemic taught us that.
Fighting in the age of loneliness
How do you fight something as abstract as loneliness? Whether it’s a new feeling or one that has been there, it’s tough dealing with loneliness. You feel alone. You seek solitude. Although you may want company, you may have been hurt. Connecting with others again will take time. What can you do then?
Accept that that’s who you are right now. You cannot change what happened already that led you here. You cannot change who, where and what happened. You moved from where you were to where you are now so that you can be alone. You are protecting yourself.
You love yourself. Sometimes you forget this but your body, your true essence; heck, your soul knows that ultimately, you are love. When you forget, it reminds you of that whether you want to be reminded or not. It knows truly, that’s what you need.
When you love yourself, you accept yourself. Accepting will lead you to greater heights. Accept everything about yourself, deny nothing. In this, you will find your true being.
Well-being to your true self
Embrace your loneliness and use it to be you. Use this time to do the things you love. Get to truly know yourself. Life throws us curve balls all the time. Someone we loved passes away. A relationship ends. You lose a dear friend. You don’t accomplish something you really wanted to accomplish. These things happen and that is life.
Life flows in every fiber of who you are. Every breath you take is sacred. Every word you speak, to yourself, to friends, family and those around us, is sacred. It is the word that brings about change in circumstances. So mind your words and speak ill of no one in your lonely time. Especially, speak no ill about yourself.
When you take care in your words, and speaking only in love, which is who you truly are, things will begin to change. You will begin to change. The time with yourself will be golden and a new life will be reborn in you.
Do the things you desire or have always wanted to do. Start sewing. Begin a craft. Learn to play the piano.
When your word is strong, and you are keeping to it, nothing will be impossible to you. You will inspire others as well. By doing things you love, your loneliness will begin to melt away.
Melt away loneliness
In 2008, I sat at the edge of my dorm room bed studying, the girls on the next apartment were surprisingly quiet, unlike other nights. I could smell a faint aroma of incense. On the other side of the building, I could hear the party girls coming back. It was dark outside but the stars were out.
My phone had been on silent but for some reason I glanced towards where it was. It was ringing. I stared at it for awhile without thinking. Then I reached over and picked it up.
On the other side of the line I heard, “Tata, is that you?”, as he had always called me. My heart melted. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck rise up. The goosebumps on my arms and legs were bigger than I had ever seen. Even in this haze, I was keenly aware of these little things. “Tata, Tata, are you there?”, the voice repeated.
I finally replied, “yes, grandpa, is that you?” It had been twelve years since I last saw him.
He was the man that taught me how to catch a fish. He taught me his wisdom, the meaning of love, hope, faith, and the value of family and friends; he taught me all I am and know. My grandfather, my hero was on the phone.
“I wanted to speak with you because things will change soon.” He continued, “it’s been too long since we sat down and spoke like we used to do by the pond. I walk by the river sometimes early in the morning. I feel your presence walking there with me even although it has been so long. It was great times wasn’t it?” Yes, I replied right away.
He went on, “have you been well? Are you progressing well towards graduation? And are you kind to all who enter your space?”
The gentleness and calmness in his voice echoed through my head. A sense of calm came over me. I know I had been living just as he taught me.
I told him how I received a scholarship to go to college. I told him, how hard I had been studying and running a small business repairing computers, and designing websites so that I don’t worry my parents about money. I told him I would graduate in a few months and was studying for my finals. He congratulated me.
On the last question of if I had been kind to all who enter my space , I told him yes. I told him some of the deeds I had done, helping friends in need, audio recording lectures for my hung-over friends and just being there to help anyone who needed my help. We spoke of all the wisdom he had taught me by the river we often walked near in Cameroon.
Before I knew it, it was almost 4am. After almost two hours of talking, he took a deep breath and said, “now it’s up to you, be a light onto the world and hurt it not. Be the unmovable mover. As you already know, if you control yourself and your emotions, you are unmovable as the world moves around you.”
He went on to summarize some of the philosophies he taught me when I was growing up. Then he said, “the most important of them all, we are one, your soul is my soul, mine is yours and all the world’s souls are one. Never forget that. I will see you on the other side”.
I told him I loved him and we hung up.
Two weeks later, my mum received a call from my cousin in Kumba, Cameroon. My cousin’s voice shaking, “grandpa passed away, he is dead”. My heart fell to my stomach when my mum told me. Even though I knew because he had told me in some many words that he was not long in this world, I still wasn’t ready to hear that he was dead.
I have felt loneliness
I have never felt anything like it before.
It had been maybe three months. The world was a bleak and sad place. Flowers were colorless. I did not feel the need for food, for water, for anything. I could live ten years in a pandemic lockdown and I would still be in a better place mentally than those three months…no, I still carry some of that loneliness with me if I am being honest.
I can honestly say, life has not been the same. I had to leave the city where I got that news. I needed to get away. I left Atlanta to New York. Then I left New York to South Korea. I left… I left… I left… 72 times I left. I left walking alone, steps of disobedience. For a long time, nothing meant anything and life was dull.
His words remain with me, “see the world when you are young so that you will have stories to annoy the kids with”? That was his type of humor. I thought of him in every country I went. My feet kept moving. Even as I finally write these words I have held within here in my apartment here in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, I remember why I left and keep leaving places.
The answer could be as simple as the fact that, he is in none of the countries. Perhaps, the fact that he is no longer in this world.
I know that, but deep inside I also think he is with me and sees all I see because we are one.
It could also be that I am running from the loneliness. Or that I have become it. Even around others I sometimes find myself incredibly lonely.
Over the years, it has become better. The more I do the things that make me happy and the things we did together that made me happy, I keep moving to have more and more of those happy experiences. As I move and meet people all over the world, I am realizing something he truly believed, we are one in soul. I keep moving so that he too may see the world through my eyes.
with Luv, Tate