The most common state in the human condition?
I suspect that it is loneliness.
“We are all in this alone,” as Jane Wagner commented.
A Course In Miracles says that our ultimate fear is the fear of separation. Coca-Cola says that our ultimate desire is for connection, which is why Coke ads so often feature happy and connected groups of people enjoying a Coke together. Gosh, maybe that’s why I drink so much of the brown sugar water, even now that it’s made with that nasty HFCS.
The question each of us has to answer is what separation we will trade for connection. Will we be tame and trade separation from our inner self for connection with the group, or will we wild and trade separation from the group from our inner self?
It’s my suspicion that we knew which trade came most naturally to us from a very early time, around the time we knew we had to pay a price for that choice.
Some of us tried to become likeable, pretty, thin, beautiful, whatever, and the price of eating disorders or other ways we tried to twist our challenging bits outside in began to catch up to us.
Some of us understood we had to stand up for ourselves, and we learned we had to pay the price of the social pressure to force us to fit in. We may have had the class vote against us, may have been locked outside in our underwear, may have had parents blam us when we demanded fairness in bicycles, but we learned that there was a price to pay to be true to what we knew to be true.
It won’t surprise you to find out that I am in the second group. My stories are about choosing connection with my inner — well, I would say godhead, but you can say voice. And that means connection to the outer world was always tenuous and thin.
I’m a femme, and I don’t know how to live without loving. Unfortunately, I used to try to manipulate into love. It’s amazing what I tried to give, amazing what I did, and I thank Christine Elaine for being with me long enough to make it clear when I did that, long enough to teach me that manipulation wouldn’t work.
So, I love, even those who cannot find a way to love me in a way that is healing, cannot find it because they have never found a way to love themselves, cannot find it because they are mired in their own loneliness and the techniques they use to fight the pain of separation.
Carol Queen says that when queers write about our lives, straights always think we are writing about them. What else can they do? They can only read our writing though the context of their own lives, only understand our stories as they read them as versions of their stories. We are the queers, the one who sought connections with ourselves, and they are the straights, who sought connections with the crowd, and stories of feeling disconnected, lonely, and separated, well, those stories are the stories of their lives too.
Loneliness is the most common state in the human condition. And what we do to try to assuage that feeling and claim connection, well, that defines us in a primal and essential way. We are what we do for love, love of our creator, love of our tribe, love.
Indeed, that was the charm of the old show: women, fundamentally women without men, were compelled to talk as fast as they could to keep their loneliness at bay. The virtue of Ms. Sherman-Palladino’s shticky style was that it created characters who were new to television. In their purest incarnations, Lorelai and Rory shared the witty woman’s challenge: to architect a wall of words so high and so thick that no silence, no stares, no intimations of mortality or even love could penetrate it.
Lorelai’s out-of-touchness with her own emotional life — her conviction that to swoon, even once, would be to forfeit her verbal power and thus her reason for being — has only grown more extreme as the show has aged. That process has had an incredible poignancy and even suspense, as when a single friend becomes funnier and more self-aware even as she stifles her need for romantic love.
Virginia Heffernan, NYT, 7 Nov 2007
We take the loneliness, and we take it because there is something we value more. We are isolated from people because we value our own voice, we are isolated from our voice because we value other people, we pay the price for the choices we make.
But the loneliness demands from us, and we lose something in the bargain — the solace of other people, the delight of the self.
And we do it, I suspect, because we are all in this alone.