Interview with a loner

 

Like a baby, stillborn,
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.

-“Bird On A Wire”, Leonard Cohen

 

Of all human traits, one of the most bothersome is the inability by many people to step outside their own personal perspective and to appraise the world in coldly impersonal, non-judgmental terms. Most people bring residual experiences, fears, and hopes with them into all situations and proceed to reflexively label everything they see and hear with value definitions they themselves possess. An act which climaxes with the normal human tendency to assume all other people share the same wants and needs and aversions.

 

This is most striking when you belong to a group that shares a characteristic that is deemed unpopular or undesirable by mainstream culture. Even if you are content belonging to and identifying with this marginal group, your mere membership will elicit concern and sympathy and even intervention from others who don’t belong to your group and are intent on fulfilling the natural human urge to bring others into the fold.

 

My guess is that we all belong to such a group or groups due to a personal proclivity which separates us from the dome part of the bell curve.

 

I am also guessing that the alienating characteristic is often so trivial and minor so as to not arouse the slightest attention.

 

Maybe you have a thing for girls with big feet or your favorite color is peach or you prefer cold weather. Meaningless individualisms that don’t affect the world around you in the least (other than women with small feet).

 

I belong to a group which receives too much attention, and amusingly, a group which probably as a whole despises it the most.

 

I am a loner.

 

Who are these loners?
What are loners?

 

No one can argue that most people need that special “alone” time and most will readily admit to it. Conversely, most people view such “alone” time as a relatively rare and intermittent period in which batteries need to be “recharged” and perhaps the mind silenced through self-reflection and the “mute” button pressed to drown out environmental overstimulation. Once this “lonesome urge” has been sated, however, most people are quite happy to rejoin the ranks of companied society.

 

What’s it like being a loner?

 

It’s…lonely.

 

“Lonely” as a description can only exist in a pejorative sense as it relates to the common instinct people have to be surrounded by…people, both physically and within one’s life. Lonely describes an emotion and a longing and as I stated previously, in popular thought, it is a given that humans reflexively flee this dreaded state since it’s widely assumed that all are affected detrimentally by it. And there lies the roots of the resulting chaos…lonely is an adjective without any foundation upon which we can judge the measure of its severity.

 

There is a class of people who are lonely, but not loners. Due to an assortment of emotional dysfunctions, they lack the ability to form meaningful human relationships and it bothers them. The loner is not this. His only hangup is that he enjoys the state of being “lonely” too much.

 

I read an article about people who are missing a common physiological tool which signals the brain when one is cold. They can literally freeze to death before they feel any discomfort.

 

And I believe some people are missing a cognitive ingredient which triggers loneliness.

 

A loner will never freeze to death in spite of the dark, arctic solitude where he seeks to live.

 

The loner is not lonely.

 

The loner who is honest and mature will soon realize that being alone is a curse. That his craving for solitude will one day, if lived out, will only cause pain and torment. Pain and torment…they patiently stand in line to greet the loner with open arms. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. But they wait surely.

 

The loner can choose to defy himself and his nature and attempt a life of normalcy amidst the crowded mass of society; happiness and succor is not to be found here for the loner, but at least he can find solace in the fact he has chosen his own route to dissatisfaction and misery. For the option of living out the journey of solitude, which promises satisfaction today, also promises pain and misery on its own terms. The loner will have no say in the misery deferred.

 

For the loner only has 2 choices:
To live in unhappiness surrounded by people for the rest of his life; or to spend the last portion of his life in dire anticipation of death in a cloud of unforgiving solitude.

 

Solitude, made bearable by youthful vigor and independence. But in old age, rendered villainous as physical robustness gives way to encroaching helplessness.

 

A loner for you.

 

  • Roberto

    “Walked out this morning, don’t believe what I saw,
    Hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore.
    Seems I’m not alone in being alone.
    Hundred billion castaways, looking for a home.
    – The Police, 1979

  • Abject Man

    Heh. So, I’m not alone in my “loner” disease.

    • Socially Extinct

      Not even dude.
      Who gets to be the Bill Wilson here?

  • Anthony

    I’m completely comfortable spending long periods of time alone (days), and I often do, but i still occasionally get lonely. Whats up with my lonely switch? I’ve got one but it works different than most. Thats if your onto something i guess

    • Socially Extinct

      Hey Anthony, yeah most likely I’m not onto anything. Just thinking out loud. Thinking out loud about how I find alienation in my own…alienation! Haha. I think the “lonely switch” can be horniness more often than not, especially for young guys. It’s not that you crave human “contact” per se…

      I think the gist of my post was that the Loner road is prone to much dissatisfaction. The loner is only happy with a mode of life that can only bring a deep sense of emptiness at the end of the day.

      I have no way of knowing for sure. Right now I am happy with my life; and as aoefe said, why should that change just because I’m older?

  • Socially Extinct

    I think that if and when I’m officially elderly, the very very last people I will want to be around are other old people.

    Wow very telling. Being forgotten preoccupies you that much? What’s so bad about being forgotten? We will all be forgotten within a couple of generations after we die. Unless we do something extraordinarily bad or good so we get inked into the history books.

    Is that your plan?

  • I’ve seen senior citizen complexes where the eldery can choose to be hospitable with their neighbors or stay in their rooms – I like that there is still choice. What I find terrible is the number of people who don’t have visitors. I want to foster relationships now so that I’m not forgotten. Being alone and being forgotten two entirely different things.

  • Where is the proof that staying alone at the end will be terrible? If you are truly a loner the solidutde at the end should be the same as earlier in life – no?

    • Socially Extinct

      Haha aoefe, good point.

      I suppose that “loneliness,” as with other emotions, comes in a scale of gradations. At the risk of unrealistically pumping up my loner credentials, I will say that I am near the extreme of the curve but absolutely not at the end.

      I have no proof that loneliness is a given when a loner becomes elderly. In fact, I’ve succumbed to the same trait I complained about…judging a foreign situation entirely based on my present perspective. Meaning it’s nothing but a suspicion and its reality is not a given and must be questioned.

  • anoukange

    Good post, thank you. A topic that has been on my mind lately (past two years) and I truly believe that being lonely is the worst possible existence for a human being, male or female. As per usual, men at better at it, stronger to it, but I would imagine it stills bothers them, haunts them. I don’t believe in a god, but I am spiritual and I focus my beliefs on the present, and the present living on this plante with other humans. If that is all we have other than the work that we may leave behind, then the moments with others are all that can be measured while alive. If there are no witnessess to your daily life, your moments, your secrets, your abilities, in your bed beside you, eating meals across from you, then do you really exist? Of course, but what a waste for no one else to have seen the beauty, passion, thoughts, laughs, shoulders, winks, sighs, pains, and pleasures of you. If I had the ability to take away a single thing in the world that is destructive for the human condition, it would not be war, or car accidents, or reality TV….it would be an end to loneliness.

    • Socially Extinct

      Hi anoukange, I certainly agree that loneliness is a terrible burden for someone to shoulder who feels loneliness. However for others, the concept does not exist in their life, either because they have a full complement of people in their life or because they simply do not experience loneliness in the same manner you do. You jokingly mentioned in passing that in the absence of a social circle to witness your life, do you really exist? The whole if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it idea. I have to take it one step further…does loneliness really exist?

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