I’ve just finished up the book, Island, by Aldous Huxley, and I’ve gotta say, it’s been one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time, possibly since the last Huxley book I read, A Brave New World, which I wrote a post about that here: A Brave New World.
Anyway, there’s this scene towards the end of the book where one of the characters is dying, and she’s not necessarily an important character in the story, though, Huxley has Will, the protagonist, give a lengthy speech on the ordeal, and I want to give just a snippet of what he said.
Here it is:
For of course nobody can help, nobody can be present. People may stand by while you’re suffering or dying; but they’re standing by in another world. In your world you’re absolutely alone. Alone in your suffering and your dying, just as you’re alone in your love, alone even in the most completely shared pleasure
And this spoke volumes to me because, at the end of the day, what Will says; what Huxley is trying to say: it’s true.
I can’t remember where I read it once, but someone else commented on this realization, as well.
It’s this realization, that, no matter who you are, what you’re doing, what you feel, who you’re sharing an experience with, you will always, in the end, be alone in your world; absolutely alone.
You’ll never know what the other person is truly feeling. Even if they look the part, act part, even expressively tell you what they’re feeling: You can never be absolutely sure what you’re feeling is the same.
But I don’t wanna make this a dreadful and miserable post. That’s not my intention.
What my true intention is for anyone reading this to actually realize what Huxley is saying, because I feel as if in this generation, where we’re supposed the most connected and well-socialized society, it’s almost as if we’re more alone than ever.
And I think it’s because we’ve forgotten what it really means to be alone.
That’s because, although you may live 1,000 miles, even 10,000 miles apart, you can be e right here, right now, together.
If you don’t want to be alone tonight, then you don’t have to be. There’s an app for that. Swipe left. Swipe right. Boom.
People become replaceable. People become just another body.
People become stripped down to nothing but, as my friend described it as, an emotional tampon (I kinda like that term).
We know the person we’re “talking” to is temporary, maybe not consciously, but at an unconsciousness level. But why is that?
Why do we feel, in most cases, the people we meet online are, in some sense, not as real as the people we meet in person?
Of course, there’s a biological and psychological reason for that, mostly in the way of serotonin and how it plays a role in our relationships. But I would say that’s more of an “after the fact” type of phenomenon.
My question would be more so, why is it we have this biological response to meeting someone online? And because of this “conditioned” response, so to speak, why has it affected the way we perceive others, in turn, ourselves included?
Why has it made us feel more alone, even in a more connected world than ever before?
This is, no doubt, an extremely complicated question, that has no obvious answer, but I think it is, in part, due to the fact we’ve forgotten the realization that many, many (Huxley included) have wrote about: We are alone.
And then that begs the question, do we not know how to be alone anymore?
I think the answer is yes, which I would even include myself as part of the demographic that falls within that category.
There’s been many times where I’ve been alone on a Friday or Saturday night, not because of my own choosing, but for the mere fact that I had no one to spend it with. No friends to see, or people invite me; and I felt every moment of that, too, alone.
What makes it worse is that you’ll see your friends “stories” and “posts” and you’ll get the all too familiar feeling of being left out, not cared about, even forgotten. But it’s not true.
The real truth is that you just haven’t gotten comfortable being alone. You feel as if you need to have someone there. You feel as if you need some sort of human interaction.
You make excuses to yourself, ourselves: “I can’t be alone, or else my depression kicks in” or “I’ll make decisions I’ll regret when I’m alone“. So we find these temporary people to fill the voids that can’t actually be filled by them.
And all this does is create a dangerous and destructive feedback loop in which it just furthers the point that yes, in fact, you can’t be alone. Because you’ve never seriously tried.
See, the problem is that when the “thoughts” and “feelings” come back when you’re alone. The feeling of “not being good enough” or even “Too much to handle”. When these thoughts come back, many of us try to reach out and have someone save us.
But here’s where the double-edge sword makes itself obvious. It’s that unconscious feeling, maybe from both parties, that you or them isn’t really helping. What you’re looking for, it can’t be provided by someone else.It has to be found within.
Of course, you can hide the feelings, mask them away, and pretend they don’t exist, but what I’ve found is this, there will always be something holding you back from creating those deep and meaningful relationships and friendships that you actually want, but can never have…yet.
It’s the dreaded “wall” we build up. The wall that took us years to build, one brick and stone at a time. With every person that hurts us, it’s just another layer we add on. And the thing is, it’s not someone else’s responsibility to tear it down or to “climb” up it.
It’s our own responsibility to stop being so guarded, to figure out why or what is inside of us that makes us feel the way we do. To tear down our own wall.
And my whole takeaway of this post is this:
People are supposed to enhance your life, not define it.
You want people in your life, not because you need them, because it shows when you do.
No, you want people in your life so you can not only make their life better, but also, so they can make yours better as well.
thanks for reading,