The "Forever Alone"
I was alone in the house, my dad had just left back to Honduras from spending a dark Christmas with me (we literally had our electricity cut off since early December), most of my closest friends were still on vacation on another country, had recently broken up –again- with who was then my girlfriend and now… I couldn’t find Schrödinger (my cat), who at that moment was still a kitten. I had come from searching my feline buddy through all the block without any positive results. Needless to say, I experienced a profound solitude and felt powerless to keep love in my life. As I gave a last glance to the cheerful play of children a few meters away from me and took a deep breath (of the at least refreshing wind that surrounded me at that hour), I went back inside to take another cold shower in the dark (…yup, still without electricity).-
A bit of imagination
The arts and the media are awesome. Through them we can show to the rest of the world what we cannot express with mere words, or what cannot be seen with naked eyes: our imagination. That precious faculty that helps us grasp the ungraspable; that vast mind field where the impossible is only a suggestion of our own limitations; Einstein’s and Faraday’s lab and the means of perdition for many… including the most beautiful and brilliant being that has ever existed after God: my wife (ahahah I’m single ahah… ok, I’ll stop), I meant to say –of course- Lucifer, that great light bearer who later became the Devil and the prince of darkness.
“How you are fallen from heaven, Oh Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…’ (Isaiah 14:12,13)
“…when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:21,22)
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
As you can tell by the Scripture passages above, our imagination can often be the source of our perdition. The reason I bring up the media and the arts into the conversation, is because through them we are constantly bombarded with all kind of ideals and worldviews that feed our imagination. Sure, not everything is bad, but some ideals are terrifyingly subtle and wrong.
One of these, in my opinion, is the praise of self-sufficiency; the very idea that brought Lucifer from the highest places to the very low. I will examine self-sufficiency further in future articles (“Love and the Origin of Evil” and “Laodicea and Why Faith is Important Today”) but for the moment let’s see how it could be related with one of the biggest but most silent epidemics we live in the world today: loneliness.
Loneliness and science
As I pointed out in my previous article (Spiritual Warfare: A Battle for Reality), loneliness is bad for your mental health and emotional wellbeing. So bad indeed, that is have been proven by science, again and again, that is likely not only to make you more sick, but it shortens your life span, it could be considered torture and it can make you lose your memory and mind as you age (Horstman, J. (2012). The Scientific American Book of Love and the Brain: the neuroscience of how, when, why and who we love. San Francisco: Wiley).
The reason I point this out, is because in today’s world there is this message of self-sufficiency and self-reliance that permeates the media and is even in the mouth of many professional advisers. I am a firm believer in the importance of learning to stand for yourself at times, especially in the face of wrong. But sometimes, this message goes as far as giving you the impression that, even your love life depends solely on yourself. However, attachment theory and biology shows rather that, when we safely attach with someone, we become paradoxically more independent and even our blood pressure, heart rate and breathing sync in with that of our loved one (Levine, A.; Heller, R. (2010). Attached: the new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find –and keep- love. New York: Tarcher/Penguin).
If you want to go even deeper, some scientists believe that one of the roles that consciousness play in our lives is as a social sharing device that helps us get a more precise picture of reality as we interchange information to reach a common goal (Dehaene, S. (2014). Consiousness and the Brain: deciphering how the brain codes our thoughts. New York: Penguin Books).
In other words, we need other people in our lives to sync in better with our reality and to do well. Because of this, we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.
The Hunger Games
Now think of this: we live in an age of entertainment and display where nobody wants to look bad independently of how miserable they feel to get their sponsorship of love through social media and make it out through the day without falling from their starvation of real, safe and unconditional love. We practice escapism through more socially acceptable addictions like Netflix and videogames to avoid the unspeakable reality of our loneliness.
Deadpool: “So Dark! You are sure you’re not from the DC Universe?”
Emerson: Don’t take my word for it. Check the following videos yourself:
According to the research in these videos: Close to half of the population is likely to experience chronic loneliness in their lives and, the cure to addiction is social bonding. This information is key, as it could help us explain why people are becoming more addicted to their phones (and other devices) and less connected with the people next to them: because they seek in their phones, what they should be getting from other people. But why?
Self-sufficiency and loneliness
As I mentioned earlier, I believe there is a connection between self-sufficiency and loneliness.
What is that connection? I will propose the following: self-love.
Now, before you jump out of your seat and start flipping tables, let me explain myself.
I do believe that there are some people that have received some kind of abuse and, because of this, they have a low self-esteem that they need to fix learning to love themselves more. However, I believe that recipe is not the cure for everybody. I believe the reason most people nowadays feel unsatisfied with themselves (including myself at times) is –partly at least- because they love themselves inadequately and, when their expectations don’t meet reality they feel confused, and even like the world (or God) owes them something.
Maybe we are lonely not because there is not enough people to receive love and understanding from, but because we have all chosen to love ourselves more… until things go bad. We are running alone in life, chasing the next big thing that will make us feel better… until we feel bad and then realize we do need others.
The problem of loneliness is a real one, as you can tell by the happy faces on Facebook and the growing rates of suicide and divorce in our world today.
Of course, self-love is not the entirety of the problem and there is a good place for it. That is why I invite you to read my next article (“The Image of God and the Purpose of Mankind”).
An expected end
Now, to end with the story:
After I took the cold shower in my dark apartment, my cat was found. The little sucker found the door of our neighbors open and decided it was his new favorite place to sleep. My cat had not abandoned me, he was just sleeping in what he though was an extension of our house (both apartments were under the same roof). This brings into my memory the time the disciples felt abandoned by a sleeping Jesus in the middle of a storm. I think the same happens to us today, except that we are the ones sleeping (ever heard of the parable of the ten virgins?), suffering a nightmare in the vanity of our imaginations while God is close and ready to save us.
Maybe our problem is that we are waiting for God to show up every day with a rush like the movies and series we see in our Netflix, when at the moment He is always present like a refreshing wind that surrounds us but that we feel to ungrateful to appreciate (C.f. Genesis 3:8; 1 Kings 19:12,13).
“…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world…” –Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:20)
Sorry for the long post, here is a picture of a heart shaped potato.