Sunday, August 31, 2008

How to Fight Loneliness?

It's that creeping feeling deep in your gut, you could almost mistake it for anxiety or excitement, polar opposites of each other yes, but just a clever biological mirror image, similar to what Lacan called an imago. But this is oh so subtly different that it is difficult to grasp. Loneliness. Perhaps my worst fear, but with age and a little help from my friends, it passes almost unnoticed.

At the moment I'm feeling a little bout of it coming down the pipes. Bubbling deep in my abdomen, rising up in a chest-tightening grip. Deep breaths and calm mind; deep breaths and calm mind might just be my mantra for the evening.

I arrived back from my marvelous 18-day vacation, during which time I spent a significant amount of time with no less than six of my closest friends, and I suppose even more depending on how I calculate such intimately qualitative data. In any case, most of this time was spent on intensive back-country hikes in the Coast Mountains of BC and the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, where it was basically my friends, me and a few of our distant animal, bird and/or plant cousins. Caribou, ground squirrels, lichens, mosses, alpine wildflowers, hawks, eagles, elk, deer, Dall's sheep, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, mosquitoes, midges, damselflies, etc, etc, you get the picture.

Even on the occasions where I went off on my own for the day, something I am more than prone to do, after all, taking in the bush on my own is a privilege I seldom enjoy these days, I knew someone was just around the proverbial corner, though it was more likely a 4km hike through alpine meadows, down steep precipices and back up mud-encrusted trails. It was that feeling of presence, knowing that someone was there in more than a metaphysical way, but in the sense of an ass warming a bench in a hut or boiling some tea or putting up a tent under the setting sun up ahead. Presence. At this moment, back at home in my large house by myself, I miss that presence. Though I remain confident that I can find it within me, I miss it, and right now feeling lonely is like a fine, serrated knife stabbing my heart. I've lost something dear to me that I should've savoured longer, like those Okanagan peaches I've been lusting over since I arrived in BC. But if there's something I've learned lately, 'shoulds' are a recipe for longing for a past that never was and never could be.

I enjoyed myself when I was away. And now I'm back and I miss my friends and I'm alone and it hurts. They're far away and even if I was surrounded by some of my favourite local people right now, and there are many of them, I'd feel dreadfully alone, because the ones I miss are not going to appear. I'll ride the feeling out on my own and be happy I did when it passes. Otherwise, loneliness turns into fear that it never will.


me2 said...

oh! heart aching! i feel the same way, missing you and all our lovely friends. the west terrace house was too quiet after we shipped you all off. and baba yelka is here beside me, preparing for a lonely, empty house this evening. no amount of slivovica will help! we are devising knitting projects to fill ourselves up with a modicum of warmth. (plus, baba yelka has been wearing your sweater every day.) strength and love to you. let's start planning another adventure!