There seems to be something very interesting in the West that is different than in most other societies. The idea that you NEED another person to make you happy is considered weak, dependent, unoriginal, and archaic. In many parts of the world being married and having a family is considered the basis of life.
Yet in America we have this “Self” that we are constantly trying to make friends with, to marry, to love more than we love anyone else. But is it natural to love yourself more than you love anyone else? Is it really true that you can’t “really” love anyone else until you love yourself? I think when you come out of the womb you love your mother; you don’t even know you have a self at that point.
Loving another human being is the first, most natural of our inclinations. Life is actually usually created through this love of another person. Yet we live in a society that promotes the idea that everything should be self-contained, even love, that loving yourself is somehow “The Greatest Love of All.”
But think about your past, think of a happy time, and I bet it was usually a relationship with someone else that made you happy. Whether it was your best friend, your boyfriend, your mother, or your own kid. Relationships, romantic or otherwise, are usually what the most loving and happy times in our lives are made of.
Yet there is this notion in our society that we must learn to be HAPPY WITH OURSELVES, BY OURSELVES, FOR OURSELVES, TIL DEATH DO US IN. The desperate need to be coupled that most single people feel at some point in their lives is considered an emotional flaw.
Perhaps, however, loneliness is the flaw. Maybe it’s not natural to be alone, at least for humans. The most natural thing we do is talk to another person, hug another person, make love to another person. Staring at a computer all day is perhaps the most unnatural thing we do. Sitting alone and watching T.V., where other people are being natural and talking and hugging and loving, is perhaps our version of fake living, it’s certainly not natural.
But “real life” involves the risk of ending up “alone.” So I think that as a protective mechanism we have created this notion that being independent is the final test of a person’s worth. I mean if I lived in India it would be considered very appropriate for me to live with my parents until I got married.
However in the U.S., I have this great desire to be alone, yet the times when I have lived alone I was lonely some of the time and felt that was my own fault somehow. Even having roommates that I didn’t like very much or a boyfriend I didn’t love helped erase the loneliness. Even the experiences I have with people I didn’t necessarily “love” were sometimes better memories than I have of being alone.
And what do I do when I’m alone? I read. Usually about other people having relationships with other people. Some of my greatest memories alone are with novels that have moved me. Another thing I love to do is watch movies. Again these movies are always about people making people happy or sad or mad. I also like to listen to music, and nearly every song is a love song of some sort.
Does being alone even exist? Because when you are alone, let’s say you are taking a walk. It’s nice to have nature around, and nature is like other beings. I mean even goddamn bugs and birds are around, trees seem to have personalities and even water seems to speak to me.
I’m alone right now, but writing assumes an audience since I’m not writing this to myself. It’s a conversation, and although I love writing more than anything else, sometimes I wish a man I loved was maybe sitting across from me at this same table. Even if he was writing his own life and not paying attention to me, the idea of not being alone would be nice sometimes.
I go to a café everyday when I’m writing in order to have someone smile at me, someone breathe in the same room as me. Does this mean I don’t love myself? I don’t think solitude is the measure of how much you love yourself. Probably how you let other people treat you, how you treat others, is the measure of how much you love yourself.
As much as we love our independence, most of us would not survive alone on island like Tom Hanks in that movie where he finds himself alone in the middle of the ocean. Yet maybe, there is something to be said for self-preservation, if we were in that circumstance. But most of us have people. If we do, it’s the luckiest thing we can have and the reason we would want to continue living even if those people disappear or die.
It’s true that we all die alone. However, we don’t have to “live alone” to prepare for that death. Perhaps there are some kinds of relationships out there even after we die alone.