I would have probably had an easier time with human connection if I lived before the advent of complex language. Before we possessed the ability to communicate our profound weirdness to each other. I would have imagined everyone as beautifully weird as me, in just the same ways as me. Give or take. I would have assumed they looked at the world and saw what I saw. That within their heart resided something like that within mine. That their minds stretched across familiar contours.
I have imagined that about people many times in my life, in absence of information to the contrary. I have filled in the gaps with such beautiful imaginings I fell deeply in love. And I trusted my imaginings more than the words they spoke or the worlds they showed me. Maybe if I could have gone on ignoring the disconnect I could have been happy. But, of course, I had to try and fix it.
It took me a long time to understand that my inability to find hard evidence of what I sought in others wasn’t due to my lacking skills, at least not entirely. It was simply that what dwelled in them was not what dwelled in me, in some significant ways. My loneliness could not be overcome simply by getting better at communicating. At least not the deepest, dearest part of my loneliness.
Perhaps I was, in some fundamental way, truly alone in this world.
Perhaps we all truly are.
But I don’t think so. I, personally, am more of the mind that we are never truly alone. The boundaries of our skin are semi-permeable, for fuck’s sake – we are in constant exchange. Isolation is an illusion.
And even as the complicated, convoluted, absurd little humans that we are, I don’t think we’re seeking, for the most part, to resolve our loneliness by entirely merging our consciousness with another. We just want to be met where we are. To not be alone is simply to inhabit a shared space. That’s not such a lofty ambition.
But what is the space we inhabit?
I walk through rooms it seems few others care to. I can’t show most people the places I go – they stare back a little blankly, or smile in placation. My favourite parts of the world are so sparsely populated that sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever see another soul there. Which is probably why I enjoy the physical crush of a packed Metro so much. I can be in my world, and they can be in their world, and we are both, somehow, in our world too, and we don’t ever need to talk about it. I don’t need to inquire, and be disappointed – we are simply here, together.
Sometimes, though, I want to talk about it. Because I know how. Because I have words. And, crude, blunt tools that they are, I want to use them. I want to explain what I see and have the other person’s face light up in recognition.
What I’ve done too many times, because of that, is I have left the world I love, and come down to the tourist trail to find someone to talk to. I have visited the high traffic areas and tried to strike up a conversation. And because I’m not terrible at it, the people I talk to sometimes love to chat, but I’m still left unmet.
We all have our own personal wilderness. Maybe mine’s weirder than yours, I don’t know. But until someone can meet me on this mountainside, I won’t feel seen. I don’t think I’m out here alone, but I’m not sure I’ve given anyone enough chance to find me. And I’m not sure how long it might take for someone traversing the same terrain to cross my path.
But imagine the thrill of being out in the wilderness and stumbling upon some other wanderer, after years of ranging alone. The stories you could tell. The stories, at long last, you wouldn’t need to. It might make having words worth it, and also entirely superfluous, all at once.