Born Alone, Die Alone


“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone.” – Hunter S. Thompson

You are alone, and always will be.  

It can be hard to wrap your head around this reality. Loneliness conjures up images of barren wastelands and stranded skeletons like scattered dice with but the vultures for company. Loneliness is bad. I don’t want that, we say, and push it away.  

But you’ll only be playing with ghosts, a child stuck in a world of imaginary creatures between the lobes of your ears.

You must stare at the skull, even as the maggots squirm and wriggle in the dark orbits, even as the bone mouth cracks open to scream a cry from another world, and a ghastly, sinuous creature of the darkness erupts from its throat to haunt your dreams until the end of time.

For there are some realities even dreamers have to face.

And it is this:

You exist in a tabernacle of flesh from which your soul peeks forth. This is your existence. All you have ever known, seen, felt, experienced and thought, exists within this one soft sac of vitality. You have only seen the world through your eyes, filtered it through your own mind, felt things with only your own fingertips. You know nothing beyond, well, you.

Now, imagine this being the case for every human being on earth. Just like you, they have never felt, seen and experienced life except through their mind and body. We are all embroiled in our own brain-frothed universes, telescoping and stringing the stars without into our own constellation configurations. One person, in a scattering of bright pinpricks, connects the dots and sees a girl drawing water from a well, another, a cavorting clown sipping bubbles from a spitting fountain. We are all wearing glasses clouded over with different frosted patterns which dapple and shift the outside world in a kaleidoscope of shadow and light.

Do you see? Even right now, as you stare at this screen, reading these words, you are viewing the universe through your eyes, processing the words with your mind, touching the keyboard or mouse with your fingers. All of us know nothing beyond our being, just as we know nothing of the yawning fathoms of space and time before our embryos blossomed into being and will know nothing after our bodies have rotted in the ground.

And it is because of this isolation that we are all alone. When I first came to this realization, my blood chilled, because from it sprouted tendrils of more terrifying realizations.

It means that no-one will ever understand you. It means that no matter how hard you snuggle up to your friend, your family member, your lover, no matter how long you plumb the depths of each others’ being, there’s always going to be that unbridgeable gap, that existential loneliness. There will never be full understanding, because no-one can know what it’s like to be you, and you can never know completely understand and know what it’s like to be other people. 

People can get close, very close, but, unless their body and mind can be absorbed into yours, unless they can get under your skin, possess your body and see the world through your eyes, the rift will always be there.

It means that belonging is an illusion. You may feel you belong, to this group, or that group, to the sky, the earth, but, in truth, there’s nothing you belong to – you’re just a floating consciousness trapped in an earthbound body, toddling about the land searching for other consciousnesses to embrace and feel less float-y.

It means that you will suffer, rejoice and cry alone. That, in the end, no-one cares if you live or die, feel pain or joy, because the experience is all your own, and other consciousnesses in other flesh-sacs are too busy feeling their own pains and joys and dying and living to care about you.

It’s the same for everybody, for every human, every living creature on earth. We are not lonely in our shared loneliness.

So, what does this all mean? What’s the point, if, deep down, as we close our eyes to go to sleep at night, we’ll be alone, no matter how many people who surround ourselves with?

I’m not sure if I can articulate what I want to say next in words, but I’ll try. Please, bear with me, because, and, not to harp on like a unscrupulous salesman, but what I’m about to say will probably change your life, or at least, your view on it.

I hope what I’m going to write next will revolutionize your little universe. That will make my own universe spin with starry happiness.

You are alone. Literally. So, stop caring what other people think. Stop trying to pander to the wishes of others. Stop moaning, complaining, lamenting the pitifulness of your existence. Stop letting others tear you down. Stop giving others the power to make you feel unworthy. Stop feeling sad. Stop feeling angry and impotent. Stop hating. Stop hurting. Stop. Stop. Stop.

Instead, concentrate on you, because you are truly all you have. This body. This mind. This soul. This. I’m not encouraging selfishness here – I’m just trying to show that you have nothing to lose. Why not make something of yourself? Why not expand your talents? Why not stop wasting your time on Candy Crush and better yourself as a person? Why not do what you love? Why not speak up, face your fears, ask that girl out? Why not reach for the stars?

In the end, no-one can help you, make the decisions for you, arrange your life they way you want it, pat you on the head and tell you you’ve done a good job at living. No-one can know you, be you. You’re alone. You’ve got this one consciousness, this one life, which is hurtling like a rocket towards death. So, why not fly with a fiery trail, and then end in a bang?

Why not?


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