I've known a lot of loneliness in my life. It started when I was a child and just kept on going. But what used to be a curse has proved to be -- miracle of miracles -- a doorway to inner peace.
A couple of memories.
When I was 18, I had a chance to go out to Southern Rhodesia, as it then was, and work as an editorial assistant on a business magazine edited by my cousin Ivor.
During my two years in that beautiful country I spent six weeks in a Rhodesian army training camp outside Salisbury (now Harare). Sitting around the campfire one evening, a young soldier from Kenya looked over at me and said, "You look lonely Chris." What could I say? It was true. I was lonely.
The loneliness I felt was abysmal. I went through that brief military training experience the same way I went through all my days -- feeling like an outsider who didn't belong there at all.
Mind you, for some strange reason, I scored very well in firing a Bren gun. It was kind of cool, actually.
In any case, in the grip of a restlessness I simply did not understand I left Rhodesia after two years and took a ship to Australia. One day I found myself climbing up a flight of stairs to apply for a job as a reporter on a newspaper in a small town in New Zealand.
Said one of the reporters to me a few weeks later -- we were becoming friends -- "You looked so lonely when you came up the stairs that first day Chris. I hope I never get like that."
Are you lonely?
Do you experience loneliness? Do you sometimes feel as if you don't really belong on this planet or in the environment where you live or work?
Here's what I have realized, after all too many years. There is a reason why I felt so lonely and restless for so long -- but it really had nothing to do with other people or with circumstances or with this world in which I lived.
I was lonely for the truth. I was lonely for knowledge of my own being.
That was the cause of my restlessness, nothing else.
The sense of separateness that I felt from other people and from the world was very real, and very painful. But it wasn't where the problem was, and it wasn't where the answer was either.
The blessing of loneliness
The more conscious I become of the stillness and peace at the core of my own being, the more I realize that loneliness, although it is considered to be a curse, is actually a profound blessing.
It can be the incentive that drives us deeper and deeper into the arms of truth -- into the arms of our own true identity.
As you or I surrender to the experience of stillness in the moment, loneliness dissolves, to be replaced by an increasing sense of the oneness of existence, and the one true spirit that binds us all.
Words of wisdom
Gangaji, author of Diamond In Your Pocket, who I often quote in my posts, has this to say about longing: “Longing is your great ally. It is your Guardian Angel crying, "Return. Return." Don't shunt it aside. Don't try to fill it with ideas, expectations, conversation, or doubt. Fall directly into it. It is a waiting vehicle....
“There is often misunderstanding around the arising of longing. To correct the misunderstanding, stop trying to feed it in the hope that it will go away. Thank goodness attempts to get rid of true longing don't work. True longing is a persistent lover. It won't go away with some trifle. It won't go away with some ordinary experience. True longing goes it goes away only in the consummation of itself."
A word about me and JoAnn
I'm sorry I didn't put up a post last week. We are right in the middle of this process of selling our house and moving to Denver and I must admit that at times it is not only challenging but quite excruciating.
But even in the midst of various disappointments and challenges, I find that the miracle of love that is back of my life and your life never fails.
I find that as I am willing to be still, in the moment, the wisdom and courage is there to take the next step, whatever that may prove to be.
Loneliness, as I used to experience it, has proved to be a door -- a door to the inner peace at the core of being -- the gift of love to all of us.