Loneliness and lines

October 8, 2015

My life will always be filled with loneliness. Even when I am in sea of humanity, this sensation of estrangement and apartness will always be an intrinsically part of my nature.

I must simply learn to see it for what it is and accept it.


‘No one really talks about loneliness. They avoid the subject like some embarrassing affliction. Like Enzma maybe, or perhaps like stuff no one ever talks about like the urge to scratch that itch on your bum, but not being able to do so only because you’re in a crowded elevator. It’s an in between subject…you like things that exist, but you don’t ever talk or notice it?..fire hydrants…bollards…white and black stripes along a stretch of road that you see, but never see as well. And coming back to the topic of scratching your bum in a crowded elevator…God forbid should your moment of weakness be viewed by millions on Youtube.

Mustn’t forget the omnipresent digital world we live in, not if the whole subject of loneliness is to have depth…nuance…textures and above all it’s true presence.

Yes, we run so fast away from loneliness….so fast most of the time ,it’s just a fleeting blur and the best we can ever do is able hold on to a few possibilities of images of what it really was that we experience daily….like a billboard on a road where no where cares to drive at 90…and much prefers to speed along…it just goes right by….the idea of loneliness.

The funny thing to me is these same people who spend so much of their lives running from it…loneliness that is till that very idea…notion…haunting refrain catches up on them and suddenly they brush it off like ants on your collar, and eventually it all disappears from their souls. That’s the unabridged version of how one runs away from loneliness…by first not talking about it like ghost or things in that go bump in the night in a formal luncheon with bankers who all seem to tailor their suits from the same shop and always seem to carry that congenial collie like dog demeanor when they talk about the future – yes, loneliness forces you to be other than yourself – do you see now it first requires that you can be free from loneliness by betraying the self…denying it and just by being like any other person out there in that faceless sea of humanity – all for what? Maybe to convince one that one isn’t really lonely all that.

Not all men are like that…some know this place beyond it’s Webster dictionary meaning… loneliness that infinity where all hopes, aspirations and fear swirl around like how drops of color dye finger their way thru pristine clear whiteness….like a splash of blood on spring snow…no. Not so easy for these men who suffer the same malady as a vampire…the thirst not for blood. Rather the nectar that explains why only they feel the way they feel.

Trust me. It’s a vampire thing – loneliness exudes a vapor. You can even smell on people who claim to have two million facebook friends.

But to for those who might perhaps be damned only because certain realities are so real, they leave no room for the imagination. These savor loneliness in the way a wine cognoscenti by the merest hint of bouquet can make out the endless fields of Carpana in July when the sun is the fiercest..to me able to see it all with such clarity and not knowingness perhaps, but with it’s lesser cousin, ‘acceptance’. Like your acceptance you will never understand why pimples get less when you get older. In the way a farmer stands with one foot along his fence and at that moment he just knows it in the marrow of his bones…one season just bowed out to the arrival of another….to see loneliness in full technicolor with THX sound system…there at that very moment when the winds caressed the season features of the farmer…he knows…it’s changed.

That at least is my version of loneliness when I speak of it…not as a verb….or a feeling that even so resembles estrangement, melancholy and the sense of incompleteness…and certainly not a diaspora of the soul.

If anything it’s how I’ve come to see my life in this world. Like one of those eighteen century aristocratic flanuers whose only preoccupation in life seems to be to perfect the art of how to live a life of dissipation….like a human ball of camphor that gives itself to the atmosphere, while getting smaller and smaller till poof! It’s gone….that is what the fear of loneliness can and might do to a man..even me…it’s like UFO’s once you seen one (real or imagined) – it’s virtually impossible to convince you – we are truly alone in this vast, desolate and infinite universe. Just as probably how so many who live averagely miserable lives manage to convince themselves, if they keep making as much lines as they can on the canvas of the world, then maybe they wouldn’t feel lonely any longer.

That may account for why so many people much prefer to see their lives as a series of intersecting lines with other lines, like a web. Not even a necessary neat one, but something random like an abstraction where it’s hard to nearly impossible to make out either form or structure….just nihilistic lines that mean as much as why two blades of grass curl against each other in June and not September…or suddenly noticing after a big shit, there is just one tiny piece of toilet paper as the roll just ran out.

No Da Vinci code to the whole idea of loneliness…no mystery even…not for me.

People need these lines to make their unbearable lives bearable..like get good grades, get into a good university, sleep with your professors or give him an iPod to improve your grades, get a good job, you know the sort that’s so good most of your peers much prefer to avoid you because your very existence reminds them how far short they have fallen in the great marathon of life in Singapore. While you at it. You also got that girl! Car to go with it along with that Condo…but you’re still lonely…and when you add up the sum total of why most people seem to be crisscrossing with so many other lines…it’s simply because we all suffer from a morbid fear of loneliness.

Yes…the man who feels every gramme of loneliness. I imagine would not be so different from a man who decides to walk into an empty museum only to avoid the afternoon rain. Nothing else I am afraid…no great Hollywood ending with that sappy fortune cookie promise of how it all ends well….on how profundity….serendipity…epiphany finally came in and saved people and planet…No! You are missing the point. Or at least failing to see how I myself perceive the idea of loneliness.

I need to remind of this…otherwise it will just be a ramble that sticks in your head like chewing gum.

But let’s get back to the story of the Museum. This man who you see now walking around each exhibit giving the same amount of time and attention as it probably takes to empty his bladder peers at each exhibit with that mildly interested expression…but always remember he really only there because he doesn’t want to get caught in the rain – he’s there, but not really there all well…like on transit.

Do you get it? If not let me flesh it out further.

You know loneliness is like of one those ‘in between’ spaces in our lives – desolate train platforms at four in the morning or in some third world airport where there is a huge NO SMOKING! sign just above a big cigarette butt filled giant ashtray.

Or on those internal flights on Africa budget airlines where the pilot lands the plane without ever having the courtesy to remind you to fasten your seat belts, straighten your seats before a landing ….can’t blame them, they’re all ex military in Africa – that gives you a terrific jolt out of your sweet reverie…bang! Suddenly you’re on the ground again…shortly to told by a African prefidious faced air stewardess as if she’s reading off from a laminated card – ‘Don’t worry about that, it happens all the time.’

That how I feel sometimes when the things I love most slip right out of my fingers…don’t worry about that, it happens all the time.’

Loneliness is like that to me…it’s not purgatory, it’s not possession…it’s even less of ownership…of anything it’s acceptance laced with appreciation – merely the realization that sometimes all we really have is now and perhaps to muster the faith to believe it will last and at least have a decent run even if doesn’t.

There are times when I put in so much and get so very little back that I don’t even know whether it was all worth – whether it might be better for me to have stayed back in Singapore….that to me is one aspect of loneliness that nuanced. It’s definitely ‘loneliness’ and not disappointment, as the latter is a really just a love’s word.

– like I said, it’s not one of glitzy revelations in life where you would wake up and all the colors pop out and the world suddenly seems clearer. (I digress but with the haze these days, it’s hard not to use that analogy above without coming across as a man who lives in a cave…but like I said…I digress.

Coming back to the point, that’s really how I have always seen the whole idea of loneliness and why people make so many lines in their life – it is when a man is just ambling along transit airportville waiting for a connecting flight…you’re there, all of you at least because you still pay enough attention to those pretty stewardess who keep strolling in pairs….but not really there, if you know what I mean, because you know, this time tomorrow, you will be where you are supposed to be……loneliness to me, it’s like that…shadowy…in between places and timelines that exist, but yet don’t at the same time…..chiaroscuros of endless mysteries…twilights mostly before a solitary lights up the nigh skies…the sensation of just focussing on putting one foot before another only because that’s all you can manage for the moment to fashion a prosthetic to avoid ever being consumed by loneliness.

The ‘the in between space,’ that you just are without ever having to think or to use only the same processing power it takes to tie your shoelaces to enable you to smile when you’re supposed too…to feign that you’re just someone who belongs to the faceless sea of humanity the 9 to 5 club, who sole means of existences revolves around the idea – tomorrow will be better than today!

And there lines the great divide…the no man’s land riven with barb wire that separates those who know loneliness for what it is and those who are simply and blissfully clinging on the best they can to the idea – I am not lonely….

You don’t see it do you? No I imagine it could be like some sort of vampire thing – or one of those B grade Hong Kong movie where the main protagonist keeps seeing ghost, when everyone seems to be just interested in talking about the latest mobile phones or fake eyelashes that optically enlarge squinty slit eyes.

I feel loneliness..all it’s hemispheres of flickering darkness…along with it’s cool reptilian brush against the rippling flesh as it hisses.

I felt it in Africa in another life – felt it most acutely when I shut the door on a last bootleg Dakota just before it took when the Akholi militia sacked my plantation and killed everyone. I could see her anguish, her look of pleading incomprehensible as she held her hands against mine separated by the tiny perplex port window – Why I I could never fly out of that hell hole with her – to hold her hands so tightly that all my knuckles would turn white as the plane rumbled into the peppermint blue skies like in the movies – I have to stay….to remain…there is no rhyme or reason other than perhaps the finality that it could only be this way – that’s perhaps the closest definition to loneliness that makes sense to me. The very idea that I cannot be with the person who she wanted me to be.

I have too much of the idea of loneliness in my being – there’s always like a pull like how the full moon makes dogs howl or when birds start suddenly to nurse their feathers in November morns a they seem to know, they have to go…they too are practionners of the art of loneliness.

But what she wanted was for me to settle down like some stone that has stayed in one place for so long it’s encrusted with an opalescent emerald green cover…to walk in the streets of Munich on a Sept morn, hold hands in summer with a bright Reisling during summer and just enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass, look into shop windows and wonder whether that would look good above the fireplace in our home. To make tea with only two crushed cloves only because that’s the only thing we ever took with us to our new lives from Africa to Germany and to simply let the ocean of time to swept and wear us down till finally we awe round like pebbles.

That dumb German nun didn’t understand me at all…how could she. I ran ivory along the Gambezi, traded blood diamonds as well…and she thought I was just a cocoa farmer….well that could probably explain why most women are prepared to fork out a small fortune for anti aging creme where the only active ingredient happens to be water!

Truth is there are so many men in a man – half the time it’s like one of those Cossack dances where one man steps into a circle and does his thing and when the beat heightens, another steps in and on and on it goes – there are so men up there, it’s hard to know whose really the one that makes up the whole man.

Loneliness that wasteland like the perpetual Russian steeps that seems to go on and on forever…I once rode a motorbike I bought for £200 and rode for eight hours for forty days and the same scouring howl of the steepest..it’s almost hypnotic sameness just permeated my soul – that’s loneliness to me – the Cossacks call it, mystika..Bilbao to the ever wandering uyghurs who much prefer a 1911 colt 45 to their government issued Makarovs that has a habit to jam – when the winds blow from the South in November – I travelled, worked odd jobs, got used to drinking vodka while on the job, even had a girlfriend who worked as a scientist with some optical firm that supplies the Militaries…yes, but all the time I was like a man lost in that place called loneliness…..I once stopped by motorcycle at the edge of the Volga, it could have been September only because the daffodils were in full bloom….I wished I could say a rare moment of epiphany descended on me like a blinding light. Or that the heavens opened up and a requiem of Zarrathursa filled my senses….but nothing. By nothing I mean nothing. Perhaps a slight urge to piss another bucket just before I moved on….and on and on…just running away from myself….or was it the fear of loneliness?

General Santos. Somewhere in the Mindanao, where people like to point guns at you at checkpoints. I took the job only because the man who interviewed me know everything I wrote about my job history was a fabrication – my ‘give’ was how I placed the verb at the beginning of every sentence – a give way, that I had been in Croele Africa – a place where even angels fear to thread……the job paid well. Just after I signed the employment contract that required me to lay pipelines for a French company – the French HR, a lady of forty or so, who probably worked for the French secret service only because they all seem embody that Miss Moneypenny look whenever James Bond narrows his eyes at her – yes….loneliness…like the moment in Africa when I shut that door closed just before the plane took off.

I knew I would never see her again…that’s how it is when the invisible lines of destiny intersect each other briefly – all you really have is that one moment – and the rest are just filled with the in between litany where it all aptly be prosaically expressed in that famous Americana parlance, ‘same shit! Different day!’

No not suggesting it’s Descartes or even remotely Proustian – but it’s certainly an allegory of how loneliness is so much a part of life and how life itself is an expression of that term.

Well maybe it’s just a place in the mind. You know like one of those fuzzy imaginary things like masturbation that you really excited. It’s not hard to (sorry for the pun) with happy hour free flowing porn these days….maybe when we just say, we feel lonely it’s that little ripple where everything is supposed to turn to jelly, squares become hexagons, then one feels a pleasurable rippling effect and it’s over – to some and perhaps many people, perhaps that how they see the idea of loneliness or being twirled by it by vines…..they say to themselves…or maybe they don’t. Maybe they’re just scrolling down their digital version of latte on the go, as one side of their mind permeates the other only to finally look up at some neon giant sized add where the mouth is big enough to eat that reads…YOU CONNECT!

And In that one solitary moment like a second hand of clock stopping dead – all time stops and suddenly this man who once entertained the preposterous way that he could possibly be lonely.

Most people go thru their lives that way.

Hey! Nothing wrong with that…if that keeps you ticking even if you get a licking sometimes from the world – I say go for it, like real coke!

Only my point is can’t live like all of you – to see the world as just some collage of emotions, psychosis, manias, fears, aspirations and maybe just the hope to be with that some special for the rest of life and to explain it all a way with as much intellectual firepower as what’s written in the back of a chewing wrapper.

I don’t say condescendingly of you. Rather it’s with a tinge envy that I wished I too could be seek the balm that staves off loneliness.

I know the entire geography of loneliness too well like the lines on the palms of my hands – they run deep. I remember long walks, usually after the end of the second shift at pie factory in the east of London that claimed to use only the healthiest produce – where everyone was fat and would probably improve their complexion by munching on GMO carrots. I wasn’t just talking about any walk at 2 in the morning back home to my bed sitter – they were long walks at times lasting between two or three hours…once saw the sunrise as it pierced thru those steel clad clouds…it was just a shaft of light…like a laser beam…maybe just then I too made a connection with a line…a mythical line…that compelled me to stand before the blinding truth – that perhaps loneliness will always be an elemental part of my being.

It’s hard to describe the certainty of that thought I’ve just written – it’s a cool finality like smooth marble that makes a rasping sound as your fingers run thru it. But that was how it came to me just then in the moment of my youth.

You know. It’s like looking out a window of a plane only because you don’t want to talk to the guy with bad breathe whose trying too hard and all you want to do is be in your bubble world. You’re right up night, the obligatory chimed followed by you can now take of your seat belt sign lights up. You start to relax. Then suddenly…imperceptibly….you’re able to make out that clear line that separates the muddied waters of the river that has finally found the infinity of the sea when it reaches the river mouth – and to be able to make it out so clearly, that line where the river gives out everything that has taken it thru so many ravines, turns and bends…for only one purpose…to be with the sea. So feel it’s cool embrace…and to see it all coalescing in swirl mixed with the cool clarity of the paraffin sea….that’s how a man come to terms with loneliness. Well allegorically at least in an economy class seat on a flight to his future.

Well that is the way I have always seen it…that country called loneliness.’

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