*** Disclaimer: this post contains some words readers might find offensive, others might find refreshing, and the most innocuous viewer might find outright potty-mouthed. ***
I’m taking a short break from my episodic narrative for two reasons. The first, I’ve written my character’s way into the woods but I seem incapable of getting him, and the story, out of the damn thing. Even going so far as to name my latest piece in the saga Out in the hopes the subtle suggestion would have subconsciously assisted me in getting my character uprooted. The second, and paramount reason, is that I’ve caught myself reflecting on a brief but thought-inducing conversation.
During our textual tête-à-tête, my friend asked me about the roots of, and remedies for, loneliness. In particular, if moving to a city might provide a cure. I’m skeptical of providing advice, just as I am skeptical of helping myself to self-help books. Giving advice, at its worst leads to unintended consequences and at its best is self-congratulatory. If you’d like I will explain the pitfalls of giving advice in an additional blog post, but I’d rather not tarry any longer about the topic here. Since the advice was solicited from me I feel as though I have enough justification to furnish the requested information. With the important disclaimer: I don’t think there is a catch-all solution to same problem for everyone. Said differently, you might be surprised at how genial common wisdom does not apply uniformly.
But before I get too pretentious, natty, or up my own ass, let me address the matter at hand.
Moving to a city cannot on its own dissolve any feelings of being alone. The lights, compactness, and allure of a metropolis does not have a thing in the way of a cure. Though do be wary, it harbors more than a few distractions. Flashy and glitzy bars, clubs, theatres, and galleries are capable of leaving you mentally and financially exhausted. In truth, I believe the availability of one’s personal vice is the most dangerous aspect of a city.
For example, if you move to a city in hopes of being able to flit about getting drunk at a new bar every evening, you might be overwhelmed with your own success. Similarly, if you move to the city with the notion you are alone, you might be disheartened with how many people ignore you. Such is the devastating consequence of the self-fulfilling prophesy. Though, the important aspect of the prophesy is the former or prefixed part: it’s self-fulfilling.
In the middle of my 144-character restricted reply, I answered and advised to “find the pillars of your character,” if my friend was to assuage the blues. When asked to clarify what I meant by “the pillars of character,” I responded saying “the things you know to be true about yourself.” In retrospect, I believe self-evident self-truths are necessary but not sufficient conditions for arresting abusive solipsism.
Why do I think knowing about yourself is important to stopping loneliness? Because once you’re comfortable in your fleshy and mercurial form, you’ve made yourself a friend for life.
If knowing yourself is not sufficient for freeing yourself from the oxytocin-reducing embrace of loneliness, what else is needed? To this I can honestly say, and if were talking I might say softly, I don’t know. I become lonely from time to time myself.
When I suggest getting to know your imaginary pillars, whether they be marble or something more concrete, I am not talking about anything spiritual. The opposite. Knowing yourself is derived from the evidence garnered and traced through the thread of experience. The hardy endeavors and altering moments of your life are indispensable when authoring the preamble which defines your own constitution.
As a native of one city who has now adopted another, I am not discouraging you from moving to a city. I’m only suggesting you exercise discretion when electing to place stock in it, in hopes you might avoid putting as much stock in it as New York does its exchange. The city can be an illuminating place if you let it be. Just recognize the power in letting yourself be as bright as possible so when times do get dim, it won’t be lights out.