In this one little life that we are granted, for the briefest of cosmic blinks encased in this flesh body on a lump of rock encircling a hot gaseous sphere, we are alone. Entirely alone.
Surrounding yourself with friends and family, pairing up, sharing secrets lying side-by-side, don’t make a difference – no matter how deep and intricate the intimacy, ultimately, you are by yourself, stuck in your own mind, to deal with life and its share of suffering on your own, often in darkness and silence.
And that, depending on how you look at it, is not a bad thing.
Logically it seems a despairing situation. Essentially what this means is that connection with others, be it humans or pets, or even robots, is not only transitory but illusory, a false comfort at best. You will never know what it truly is like to be another person, and what goes on in their head, how they experience the world. Likewise, no-one can truly understand you – at least not until scientists invent some sort of telepathy device that allows people to share their minds, which, frankly, given the current rate of technological progress, seems likely in the next few centuries or so. But, for the moment, a device does not exist to allow us to experience what it is like to live everyday life in the body and through the mind of another, to see and filter the world through their particular personality, psychological makeup, with their memories and experiences. To compensate for this, most tend to see people as they want to see them, or only scratch the surface of who others are, and there is nothing really very wrong with this. You can go through your entire life this way, constructing your own world, populated with your own customized types of people, happy as a bee, but also dull as a dingbat.
The better alternative to ignorance or despair is to treat this essential mystery that are our fellow humans as a delight, something to puzzle over with the same curiosity that propelled Homo Sapiens up to the moon and down into the deepest depths of the oceans. For each of us are mad, in our own way, and, what is more, bottomless in our madness.
For if we are honest with ourselves, another truth is that much of the time, not only are we clueless about the inner worlds of other people, we also do not understand why we ourselves do and think and say the things we do. In other words, we are so complex that we cannot even understand ourselves sometimes. Who are you? Who are you, really? As a human being, intricate beyond imagining, both physically and psychologically, it is impossible to predict your next moves, for your psyche, composed of a few hundred complex factors jostling together, ranging from primal urges to lofty ambitions, is irrational, and also very adaptable. For instance, most of us are all natural born actors. The way we act with our friends is different from how we act around our mother, and who is to say that one version of you is more real than the other? They are all you, just different facets of who you are, each interesting and different but part of the same gemstone.
While these facets may shine, the light that winks through them is often distorted, murky. All of us possess our own set of neuroses and oddities and quirks, which is the resultant fragrance that steams from the stew of all that makes us who we are, our past, our psychology, our biology, our family, everything that we see or hear or read – in other words, we each have our very own personal brand of madness. I, for one, am partial to darkness, and dislike extensive exposure to sunlight. Open the blinds in the middle of the day and you are wont to make me yowl in dismay. Others might be unable to stand not having things put back in their right places, or having the TV on too loud, or start to twitch around cats due to a bad childhood experience which inflated the creatures into monstrous tigers in some deep recess of their minds. To put it simply, we are all weird, you are weird, I am weird, everyone on the planet is weird, and it is hard enough trying to understand ourselves without having to also fathom the behaviour and thoughts of others.
That does not mean, however, that we should not try. Just because we can never completely understand a person does not mean we can never uncover parts of them, chip away the dirt here and there to let a facet wink through. We do not need to know, entirely, what it is like to be another person, to talk to them, or love them. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if we could transport ourselves into the bodies of every person we met, could know exactly what it was like to be them, the world we live in would be the more duller for it. They say it takes a lifetime to get to know someone, and sometimes, even then, at the end of, say, sixty years, it is not enough, and they can still surprise you. To that, I say: Thank God. Far better for us to live in a world where we are surrounded by walking mysteries we can observe and uncover and ponder over, rather than one in which we understand everything, and have nothing to find, and are thus bereft of the delight of discovery.
So, yes, rather sorry to break it you, but you are alone, and no-one will ever understand you completely and you will never understand other people completely and in the end we shall all die as unopened boxes, mysteries to one another for eternity. But that is as with everything in life. Life is not just meant to be lived, or understood – we are here to bask in the mystery of everything, and rejoice in the delight and wonder that not knowing anything yet knowing everything is very interesting and complex and wonderful brings. No-one knows exactly where creative inspiration comes from, or why synchronicity exists, or why we fall in love with this person even when that other person clearly, logically, and rationally would be far better for our mental well-being and more suited to our personality and propensities – which is just as it should be. Where would the fun be, if we knew and understood everything, were tiny gods strolling this planet, our minds bloated with knowledge, yet unable to enjoy anything? Delight stems from novelty, and you cannot have novelty if you know and understand everything already.
Life is hard, but it is also funny, fascinating, lovely; it is a tragedy and comedy and romance and mystery boiled into one sweetly spicy savory stew; but most of all, it is sometimes strange, sometimes weird, sometimes unpredictable, and yes, sometimes lonely – just like you, just like everyone else who has existed and exists and will exist.
And that’s great.