It hit me that, like I’ve said about emotional pain in previous blogs, loneliness is also a phantom of the mind – the product of critical over-thinking. It’s why people say they can feel lonely in a crowded room. It is the mental dialogue that creates that sense of loneliness, rather than the actual situation. via Lesism – by Les Floyd: The Illusion of Loneliness.
I deeply resonate with this truth. Loneliness described this way reminds me of what one of my professors said about daydreaming. We often think about daydreaming as this creative enterprise where our imaginations carry us away. This may be true and often is. Without dreamers and dreams arguably we would be without most of our greatest thoughts, inventions, and discoveries. Art itself would be at a loss for ingenuity.
Let’s think about daydreaming another way. It needs a context to be a positive and creative contribution. If we daydreamed all the time we wouldn’t have the time to master the crafts and skills necessary to create. Nothing would materialize. It would all be stuck in our heads and we just wouldn’t have the capabilities to share the beauty of our dreams with one another. If daydreaming is an escape route to the disciplines we need to cultivate in order to create, it isn’t a very good thing.
Put this way, daydreaming is the ego running a little riot. An escape mechanism is a defense mechanism. Dreams can fold inward so that our minds can’t break free. Like a black hole we seek escape the need to fill ourselves with something. It’s another mental strategy of escaping the world as it is. Making a dream a reality is a lot of risk. Creation is the very endowment of God’s stamp on us. “Make as I have made.” Remember that God made all things good. If we can’t create we aren’t cultivating that image and why would we not want to do that? Carrying the image of God and becoming more like God shouldn’t be a burden, but a distinct joy and pleasure that human beings are alone capable of understanding.
Loneliness expressed in the quote above serves the same function. It is an escape from the risk of being known and of making ourselves come into being. Loneliness deprives us of our God-endowed natural ability to make ourselves and the world around us to share in the image of God that we all carry. If we are staring at our feet the entire time bathed in the dirt of self-pity how can we look up to see what is good in front of us? How will we know where we are going if all we can do is stare at the ground beneath us expecting it to take us somewhere like an automatic walkway at an airport?
How sad it would be to cave into the bondage of self-pity when such beauty is all around us just waiting for us to appreciate it and to shape it more in the image of the God who endows it all with creative energy. That’s all beauty desires – to be known and shaped. Perhaps the same beauty of the world around us is what also makes us tick as humans. Perhaps beauty more than intelligence is the distinctive character of being human. To know the world as it is and to be known as we are in this moment. Self-pity and loneliness can’t be bothered with such a notion. And that’s a little pitiful.
We often think that environmental disasters, vandalism, abuse, war, and violence are at the top of events that kill off beauty. Maybe we are too quick to judge. If we are staring at ourselves with utter contempt in our lonely dispositions, that might be the first death blow to the very beauty inherent in the universe itself.