Charles Bukowski lived and wrote in a very different world from the one we do now. His words took weeks, months, years, if ever they did, to see the light of day. Now, in this awful fucking era, I can write anything I want and publish it for all the world to see via social media. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not; there is no modern filter. My thoughts become words, become public domain, instantly, and with very little recourse by comparison to his day. The same can be said for Sylvia Plath or Amy Lowell, two more champions of the same lonely grit, survived by the timeless, dark words they left behind. What I’m getting at, is that while I feel a sort of kinship with my heroes, though never daring to put myself on their same level (far from it), we share a similar driving essence. However, it remains fundamentally different.
Loneliness, the age-old muse, is perverted in our current time. It has become mutated; quickened by the exponential speed of change, and tempered into a form un-felt by previous generations. Even the very weight of the word itself has lost its gravity. Feeling lonely? Hop online! The world, the promise of instant camaraderie, is at your fingertips…Fear not the dark of night, for we have conquered at long last and brought forth everlasting light. Or something, whatever.
Have we though? While we’ve created undeniably better tools for communication, we seem to suffer an even greater collective poverty, while sharing (or vomiting rather) our opinions, sorrows and hopes in the modern melting pot via status updates, selfies and tweets (and whatever else). We’ve cheapened connection to one another with such irony, I find it hard to describe sitting here right now, typing on the very tool I could use to message, call, email, post, etc. any number of friends (or strangers) from all over the world. Still, here and now, I am alone, writing about being lonely. Here you are, presumably alone, reading some bullshit written by some asshole about being alone and lonely in a great big superfluous world full of people….all lonely and all alone. What a crock, huh? “So it goes.” proclaimed Vonnegut, and he couldn’t have been more right on, when he substituted those three words for “fuck it”. Entire religions, philosophies, schools of thought, what-fucking-have-you have borne this problem for centuries. Buddhism will tell you we are all one. Science will tell you we’re all made up of the same shit. Someone, somewhere told us that we’re all stardust, then David Bowie made it seem really fucking cool. And so we are…so why don’t we feel like it? Why does the dark, murky ether of loneliness seem to permeate into, and out from, the souls of every respected writer, artist, musician or anyone expressing a public opinion on the human condition. Why goddamn it, WHY?
As a child, just beginning to discover the new, vast capacity of my own mind, I very soon became aware of my ability to completely disconnect from reality. From my own sense of self, was I able to just “tune out”, usually in response to some traumatic experience, or just any self-inflicted feeling I was unequipped for. As a child, that was just about everything: tune out. I would hurt myself just to feel in excess; a terrible, pitiful place I would go sometimes and stay as long as I could. I still do it. It would seem I’ve always preferred the limitless autonomy of dreams in contrast to this drab reality. Nothing was new or wonderful in youth, but rather volatile and terrifying for the most part. I was born without certain quintessential filters of vision (I do not mean ocular, literal vision), and that lack has never been a blessing, but a curse. Religion didn’t make sense to me, sports and useless games didn’t seem fun. under the guise of courtesy, all the polite lies, we tell each other (and ourselves) only served to alienate and confuse me. I realized very young, that I just didn’t fit into the mold.
Now, as an adult, I’ve learned to embrace my vagabond status, or to try at least. I know everyone feels “somehow different”... I truly believe I am. I seem to be at odds, constantly, with everything, everyone, everywhere. I have nothing but complete contempt for mankind and all the silly fucking games we insist hold some dumb importance. I’m not sold, I don’t want any part, and If I could, I’d go live in a fucking tree house somewhere and defect completely. Still, however, I don’t.
Loneliness seems to insist that one still, regardless of its isolating nature, seek reconciliation from others. It tells me that one day, if I hold out long enough, I’ll find someone that feels like I do, and who understands me. Someone who forgives all my blatant contrast to the normality I feel surrounded by, the mediocrity this prison force feeds you. That probably won’t happen. I think all anyone ever really wants in life is to be truly understood by another.
I’ve never been able to narrow down why, exactly, I don’t feel understood and hence unavoidably lonely. Even now, as I write this, I find it difficult to express myself fully, to put words to the thoughts and feelings I’ve never cared to explain before. It’s infected almost every ounce and facet of my being, from the music I’ve written over the years, to the poetry I write now, and the way I relate to others (or don’t) on a daily basis.
Certainly, others feel as put-out by politics as I do. Its an obvious, bullshit game, disinterested with the needs of the constituent public it was designed to represent.
Certainly, others feel as though the perfect romantic picture painted by (some, most?) movies and literature is as silly as it really is. We all know that when the honeymoon wears off, relationships are like holding down a job, sometimes the work is hard, the pay sucks, and someone is constantly mad at you.
Certainly, we all know that fame and fortune is nothing it’s cracked up to be and that the people we put on pedestals are just as fucked up and as human as us.
Certainly, others feel the same equal redundancy to importance in discussing the ideas that might make us all better people. Still, it remains boring and pointless. Everything happens the way it will, and the only thing you have control of is your reaction.
I certainly know that loneliness has shaped me as a person, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, until death finally does do us part. I’m married to it, and I do love it. It has instilled an undying, at times ambitious obsession, with the hopeless, helpless depravity we all have to face in life. Some of us seemingly more than others. Though, at times, I still find myself searching for comfort in the company of others, I’ve realized that my personal breed of loneliness has simply been my subconscious’ way of telling me just who I am: A person who can’t abide by the social institutions of marriage, religion, politics, classism, racism, sexism, the 40 hour work week, the countless naiveties of our 21st century and so on and so forth, this that and the third and the other and etc. and blah blah motherfucking happily ever after….
I’ll probably never have children. I wouldn’t dare doom another to the fate I suffered as a child, or that of this world now, as we know it. I might not ever get married. Marriage and family are words I cringe at the very mention of. I hated school, it seemed like total bullshit when I was there, and in retrospect, it doesn’t seem any different. I fucking despise authority as yet another useless construct we give far too much gravity to. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I don’t know if I’ve made my point (or any point for that matter) and I don’t care. Actually, I’m just surprised to have written more than a few lines of poetry, because this is the first time I’ve ever tried…I can’t take this world seriously. I’m okay with that now. Though it was a long, lonely road indeed; I’m ok with not being ok. okay?
I considered closing with one of my own poems, but you can go look up my volatile works, and follow me on Instagram @alan_melancholic
Instead, I’ll close with a line from one of my favorite bands: “There’s an energy in loneliness that forces one to grow.” Tony Kovacs, singer of Shot Baker, a bad-ass punk band you should go check out…
Thanks for your time, and sweet dreams, assholes….