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?
“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.