LONELINESS: THE KEY TO COURAGE
When you are too familiar with who you are, you have become in fact a real stranger to your self. As you age, you will have more space to become acquainted with your self. This solitude can take the form of loneliness and as you age you can become very lonely. Loneliness is exceptionally difficult. A friend, who was living in Germany, told me of his battle with homesickness. He found the temperament, the order, the structures and the externality of Germany very difficult. He had flu during the winter and the loneliness he had repressed came out to haunt him. He got desperately lonely; instead of avoiding it, he decided to allow the loneliness to have its way. He sat down in the armchair and gave hinmself permission to feel as lonely as he wanted. As soon as he gave that invitation to his soul, the loneliness just poured through him. He felt like the most abandoned orphan in the cosmos. He cried and cried. In a way, he was crying for all the loneliness in his life that he had kept hidden. Though this was painful, it was a wonderful experience for him. When he let the loneliness flow, let the dam burst within, something shifted in his relation to his own loneliness. He was never again lonely in Germany. He became free, once he had engaged and befriended the depth of his own loneliness. It became a natural part of his life. An old friend of mine in Connemara said one evening as we were talking about loneliness: 'Is pol dubh dóite é an t-uaigneas, ach má dhúnann tú súas é, dúnfaidh tú amach go leor eile atá go h-álainn chomh maith,' i.e. Loneliness is a black burnt hole, but if you close it up, you close out so much that can be so beautiful for you as well. There is no need for us to be afraid of that loneliness. If we engage it, it can bring us new freedom.