What if, whenever we felt lonely, what we were actually experiencing was a state of mis-attention.
Where our mind had pulled us inward and convinced us that we are alone in this experience.
Alone in this grief.
Alone in this conversation we are having.
Alone in this challenge that we are attempting to navigate our way through.
And what if loneliness was indeed a state of missing, but the not the kind of missing we might think.
The kind of missing we first think of is the missing out kind…
The missing of company.
The missing of friendships.
The missing of intimacy.
The missing out of being included.
I’ve been taught to understand loneliness as an invitation to pay fierce attention to my natural allies in the world.
And to seek them out.
My horses in the paddock
The leaves on the trees
The ground beneath my feet
The sky above my head
The birds I hear in the distance
And paying attention to those things, takes me the 1/3 of the step, the ½ a step beyond my current self
To have a better idea about what the next ½ step might look like.
Anne Lamott said: “I see my mind as a dangerous neighbourhood. I never want to go there alone”
Not going there alone, as David Whyte says, means going in with perspective.
And the perspective I want to offer here, through the understandings he has taught me, is that we have many allies in the natural world beyond what we might think.
At all times, and in all circumstances.
Waiting to befriend us
if only we allow them too.
End notes: I’ve had many conversations over the last year with people feeling lonely.
I offer the above not as a substitute for human company or connection, but as the start point to acknowledge that wherever you are, you already have “natural allies and friends”, again, in the words of David Whyte.
And as with everything, we must start where we are.