"If I had to write a poem to end all poems,
it would be the word ‘lonely’
in every language."
~ Caitlyn Siehl
Barron Storey talked to Temple of Art about what he does as an artist in the face of failure. This is the result.
"Movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts. When I go to a great movie I can live somebody else's life for a while. I can walk in somebody else's shoes. I can see what it feels like to be a member of a different gender, a different race, a different economic class, to live in a different time, to have a different belief."~ Roger Ebert
Pulled pork, roasted Brussels sprouts, and salad from Have-Paul's, April 25, 2014
How to be Alone
by Tanya Davis
If you are at first lonely, be patient. If you've not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren't okay with it, then just wait. You'll find it's fine to be alone once you're embracing it.
We could start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library. Where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books. You're not supposed to talk much anyway so it's safe there.
There's also the gym. If you're shy you could hang out with yourself in mirrors, you could put headphones in.
And there's public transportation, because we all gotta go places.
And there's prayer and meditation. No one will think less if you're hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation.
Start simple. Things you may have previously based on your avoid being alone principals.
The lunch counter. Where you will be surrounded by chow-downers. Employees who only have an hour and their spouses work across town and so they - like you - will be alone.
Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.
When you are comfortable with eat lunch and run, take yourself out for dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You're no less intriguing a person when you're eating solo dessert to cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.
Go to the movies. Where it is dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.
And then, take yourself out dancing to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside of the floor till the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one's watching . . . because, they're probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions.
The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you're sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life's best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.
Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you.
Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, there're always statues to talk to and benches made for sitting give strangers a shared existence if only for a minute and these moments can be so uplifting and the conversations you get in by sitting alone on benches might've never happened had you not been there by yourself.
Society is afraid of alonedom, like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them. But lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.
You could stand, swathed by groups and mobs or hold hands with your partner, look both further and farther for the endless quest for company. But no one's in your head and by the time you translate your thoughts, some essence of them may be lost or perhaps it is just kept.
Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from preschool over to high school's groaning were tokens for holding the lonely at bay. Cuz if you're happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is okay.
It's okay if no one believes like you. All experience is unique, no one has the same synapses, can't think like you, for this be relieved, keeps things interesting life's magic things in reach.
And it doesn't mean you're not connected, that communities' not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. Take silence and respect it. If you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it. If your family doesn't get you, or religious sect is not meant for you, don't obsess about it.
You could be in an instant surrounded if you needed it.
If your heart is bleeding make the best of it.
There is heat in freezing, be a testament.
"There's a thing when we're children we experience. It usually exists in libraries and it's called the hush. Like this magic world called Hush. There's not many places now to find hush. Somethimes I really do think if every person would experience hush—even if they almost have to force it on themselves for a while—just the bird, just the wind, nothing else, hush—there would be less violence."
"A remote faint question, where I might be, drifted and vanished again in my mind. I found myself standing astonished, my emotions penetrated by something I could not understand.
I felt naked. I felt as perhaps a bird may feel in the clear air knowing the hawk wings above and will swoop.
I began to feel the need of fellowship. I wanted to question, wanted to speak, wanted to relate my experience. What is this spirit in man that urges him forever to depart from happiness, to toil and to place himself in danger?"
~ H.G. Wells
Narration adapted from the works of H.G. Wells. Excerpted from the following:
The Time Machine (1895)
The Island of Dr Moreau (1896)
The First Men in the Moon (1901)
In The Days of the Comet (1906)
The World Set Free (1914)
It's not the lost lover that brings us to ruin, or the barroom brawl,
or the con game gone bad, or the beating
Taken in the alleyway. But the lost car keys,
The broken shoelace,
The overcharge at the gas pump
Which we broach without comment — these are the things that
eat away at life, these constant vibrations
In the web of the unremarkable.
The death of a father — the death of the mother —
The sudden loss shocks the living flesh alive! But the broken
pair of glasses,
The tear in the trousers,
These begin an ache behind the eyes.
And it's this ache to which we will ourselves
Oblivious. We are oblivious. Then, one morning—there's a
crack in the water glass —we wake to find ourselves undone.
"Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful, and decide what you want and need and must do. It's a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that's the deal: you have to live; you can't live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It's the easy way out."
"The Bed Song": from Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra's album, 'Theatre Is Evil,' get the track FOR FREE / NAME YOUR PRICE at AmandaPalmer.net: http://bit.ly/AFPshop.
video script/concept written by amanda palmer.
directed by Michael McQuilken http://www.qmotionpictures.com
produced by Jennifer Harrison Newman. Filmed on location at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College on August 22-24, 2012 as part of a Live Arts Bard residency.
"There is no single, unimpeachable word
for that vague sensation of something
moving away from you
as it exceeds its elastic capacity"
Oh this life is so strange, you need a sense of humor.
The maker is half caretaker and half joker.
We are not broken ones. . .just shattered pieces of the same bright sun,
trying to figure out which way to run,
and I can't do this alone.
All I need is a good good friend
To get me through this
All I need is a good good friend
To help me out
When I'm burning down
When I'm all stressed out
When I'm underground.
Life is a playground, but it takes a lot work.
You better learn to love, or it'll tear you apart,
cuz in the end, we are measured by the size of our heart,
and we can't do this alone.
Some of us are laughing, while some of us are choking
Some of us can't change til every bone has been broken.
All the while the maker just sits there joking, "You never really were alone."
Thank you for being around.
We Who Are Your Closest Friends
by Phillip Lopate , from At the End of the Day
we who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting
as a group
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift
your analyst is
in on it
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us
in announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
indeed against ourselves
but since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
then for the good of the collective
[Thanks, Jonathan Carroll!]
Just watch any husband arguing with his wife about something insignificant; listen to what they say and watch how their residual emotions manifest when the fight is over. It's so formulaic and unsurprising that you woudn't dare re-create it in a movie. All the critics would mock it. They'd all say the screenwriter was a hack who didn't even try. This is why movies have less value than we like to pretend -- movies can't show reality, because honest depictions of reality offend intelligent people.
The reality I got to see was not "movie reality." The reality I saw was just reality, without quotes. You want to know what I really learned? I learned that most people don't consider time alone as part of their life. Being alone is just a stretch of isolation they want to escape from. I saw a lot of wine-drinking, a lot of compulsive drug use, a lot of sleeping with the television on. It was less festive than I anticipated. My view had always been that I was my most alive when I was totally alone, because that was the only time I could live without fear of how my actions were being scrutinized and interpreted. What I came to realize is that people need their actions to be scrutinized and interpreted in order to feel like what they're doing matters. Singular, solitary moments are like television pilots that never get aired. They don't count.
Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower
by Rainer Maria Rilke, from In Praise of Mortality: Selections from Rilke's Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus (translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.
Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29
See also: "A Wild Love for the World," On Being, March 17, 2011
If we are to hold solitude and community together as a true paradox, we need to deepen our understanding of both poles.
Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one's self. It is not about the absence of other people — it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others.
Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather, it means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other. It is not about the presence of other people — it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, whether or not we are alone.
~ Parker J. Palmer, from A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life