Just Me and Myself – Cycling one Sunday (Musings & Reflections).
Posted by intellisg on May 21, 2007
It seems to me at least, being or preferring to be alone these days is increasingly being seen as a character flaw. I remember as a kid, it wasn’t unusual for other children to call me “weirdo” or “psycho boy.” Or even for my teachers to refer to me as a “loner.” As if I was afflicted with some incurable contagious diseases. Of course as one gets older for males at least, choosing to be alone is seen as a mark of a thinker (or perhaps a crazed gun man, I really don’t know). And this is where I think one of the readers who wrote to me recently summed it up quite well, when she said:
“….nowadays Darkness, if you are a single girl like me and you’re not hitched. People expect you to be actively on the prowl – speed dating or something. All of these “die, die must do” stuff are discussed as if they are fact. But recently I’ve come to the realization that’s all a crock of shit! You see darkness, I just want to know why you sail, climb and cycle all by yourself –Is it possible to be completely content with your life and be alone at the same time?” – Irene / Bukit Batok
What’s interesting about Irene’s case is, she not referring being alone in the context of “single and looking” or “have to be alone because someone died or I got dumped” or even “single because I am married to my job.” Irene is not talking about that sort of loneliness. Rather its one where one elects by choice to be alone. That’s to say it’s “I choose to remain single.” That’s the direct opposite of “I have to be single because I weight 2 tons and I look like the elephant man and I am as interesting as a soviet warehouse.” She is talking about “I am single, beautiful and successful and I like being alone.”
Now maybe I am confused or obscure again, but judging from what I read in the papers, magazines and watch on TV these days, people like Irene aren’t supposed to exist. I mean, we know there are few hermits living in caves somewhere in Nepal surviving on a handful of sun flower seeds, but that’s not what Irene is talking about. She is referring to people who have nominated to be alone as a matter of choice. Because they really believe it’s possible to live happy, contented and productive life’s, but again society will have you or me believe that’s not true.
Now just in case you are wondering whether this is a flippant rant – don’t! Because the question has deep philosophical roots that goes all the way back to Socrates. Wasn’t he the one who said that all we really just doing; is seeking our other half to complete ourselves? It implies of course we are fractional unless we find someone to love and who are prepared to love us in return. Sure that’s great for our genes and the propagation of the species, but as a self-actualized ethos in this modern age today; how well does this notion sit with of sense and sensibilities?
Now we all know being alone is something we all need to do from time to time. No man is an island and everyone needs someone as a pillar of strength even the very best of us especially during those challenging periods – when loneliness lingers on and every passing moment cuts like a knife.
While being alone seems to be quite miserable at times, if you look at it long and hard enough, much of our realizations are winnowed when we are alone with our thoughts. We make our most level headed decisions when we are alone. I can’t say this for all. But this is especially true for me. Because my vocation doesn’t really require much in the way of human interaction – you could say that’s why I naturally biased to buy into the idea loneliness is a precondition for successful character building.
If we can find the strength to be comfortable and happy when we are alone, not only will we grow to be stronger people. We will have more quality time to our thoughts and be empowered to express our ideas and not be swayed by others.
Let me share a few private thoughts with you that I have never ever told anyone else. Being alone always manages to inspire quiet thoughts – the one where I usually find myself talking to myself. You know (or maybe you don’t because Dr Chandra thinks I bonkers!) that sugary nesting warmth, when you just know somewhere in the depths of silence, you’re simply working things out in your head. Most of the time my other half (my inner voice or persona) remains silent. We are really like two strangers looking at each other across an abyss. One of us may wish to go over the other side or shout out loud from time to time, but most of the time sitting undisturbed in each other’s presence, nesting in each other’s warmth will do very nicely – like today when I am just cycling.
If I had to plumb it, I would go with the idea, that voice in my head has to be a “she.” Only because she laughs at me when I say – do the wrong things – or try my feeble best to defend my blunders; she knows me from “the inside out” and is acquainted with all my annoying self indulgences, my private habits and quirks. All the things I choose to hide away from the all seeing world.
She just knows, she’s got a mind of her own – the voice in my head that is. Like old couples, we don’t need to use any words, a grunt, nod or a raised eyebrow will do just as well. All these things are enough to convey the length of a sentence. It’s a relationship.
It’s not easy for a man to run away from himself – not even when he tries so very hard to still his mind and reduce all of it to just smoothing out his strokes as he pedals along, like I am doing right now while mulling over what Irene wrote.
As I am pedaling right now, everything just feels right and tight. The gears are meshing beautifully; the sensation of by the forward glide has never been smoother. I am starting to close in on the pack. Most of the riders have formed up into a tight defensive knot – that’s how they fight off marauders, there is safety in numbers in the sport of cycling – my thoughts returning again to what Irene wrote.
Loneliness can never be taken too philosophically. Neither can the idea of how it continues to inspire fear. I am reminded as an extreme sportsman and businessman, if we don’t fear, it only means our eyes have not been opened and it’s just another form of living in ignorant bravado. Fear is something very natural and it should never be denied an outlet. The more humane we become, the more likely we are to suffer the dread of being lonely. To live, breathe and think simply means continuously reconciling ourselves with vulnerability, rejection and pain – but what did you really expect out of life, we are not old leather, made softer, more comfortable with usage– but that’s not such a bad thing and let me share with you why? – one can only grow based on the ability to look pain or fear directly in the eyes.
And it doesn’t matter what sort of pain or fear it is. It could be the emptiness which follows a bereavement or as I am ridding my bike now – the fear of the pain barrier. Speaking of devil. I am starting to straggle now losing the cadence even slightly. My breathe is starting to become uneven. Hold on! that’s because I am starting my run to punch through the pain barrier, it’s time to begin to picking up speed for the kill – bear with me just a while. There you go, but eventually the white blur edges out quite happily along with the pain. That’s how we all typically go to the next level. It’s a humbling experience one which forces us to confront our sense of fallibility.
Getting close to our fallibility like the fear isn’t such a bad thing either. It just means we need to understand it and that may even risk experiencing a sort of separation from the comfort of familiarity – it’s a mountain ledge some 16,000 ft at the upper reaches where you just realized, you have broken your leg in 15 places. There you are contemplating the smallness of your courage. Or a salary man who is turning in his first day as a business man as he opens his first commercial venture. Perhaps even the mother who is trying for a child despite being told repeatedly she doesn’t stand a medical hope. The student who simply fell once and now he’s saying the past is the past and I just want to make good.
In all these cases it takes courage to confront our sense of fallibility. But loneliness or rather the fear of it sharpens our awareness of being vulnerable even further – the “you” may even disappear like a drop of dye in water. Along with name, location, age and gender, it all fades away. Everything is stripped bare and stretched out on a pelt rack, all the essentials in their unalloyed nakedness: who-are-you? – what-are-you? and where-are-your-going?
Gradually a clear sense of continuation returns if one manages to pass through the tunnel of fear that loneliness inspires. All the different parts of “you” will return again, stronger and firmer; first the solid sense of identity followed by the sensation of having a deep spirited confidence in your beliefs and values.
Cultivating one’s inner voice simply means having to be comfortable in a state of loneliness. I can’t speak on the behalf of others like Irene or you. But this is especially true in my case. It’s a process of nurturing the habit of fellowship with yourself without the distraction of having to appease others or to constantly seek their approval – it’s the story of reclaiming the real “you” in the faceless, “them.” That the world has leached away through convenient sound bites and the monologue of nothingness.
Only when we stop the mindless chatter and still the mind that we can to really listen and begin the journey to true understanding. That’s probably why most people fear loneliness – they need to have a conversation with themselves – that is to say, they have to stand naked before the completeness of the truth. And most people just can’t deal with that.
May I wish you all a productive week ahead and may you so lucky to find the mythical line when it’s just you and the road!
(By Darkness / meditations / psychology –EP9930672 – The Brotherhood Press 2007)
[This article has been revised from an earlier article, “Sailing all alone through the eye of the needle” – 2005]
13 Responses to “Just Me and Myself – Cycling one Sunday (Musings & Reflections).”
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.