AFTER A WHILE, one becomes lonely.
The “while,” our researchers say, may be early for some, but after 70 or 80 years or so, it’s common. Their studies tell us we can assume that long-term loneliness is an ancient belief in the bell-jars of mortal life, that our friends will be off for adventures away, leaving us to think we’re alone on Earth.
If one of our friends was a wife or a husband, then our touch and our, “Good morning, dear one,” will be lost over a wide calm ocean of silence.
I didn’t think of this till a year or so ago. I learned there were not two, but three ways to die.
Sudden events: car crashes, lightning;
Slow events: illnesses, smoking;
And the third event: loneliness.
We barely realize it’s happening, the third.
Sometimes former mates become wonderful friends. Sometimes they learn how to change from mates to friends, to live without romance, and without the angers that touch many in the midst of separating.
Yet what happens is that the two don’t play with words they way they did before, no more the table-tennis with ideas when each could say anything to the other. There’s no intimate sharing of thoughts, they don’t have time or interest, to tell each other what living feels like, the way once they did.
Romance is a color of life that they agree not to share. They’ll talk about most things, business and daily events, when they might meet, but nothing that touches deeply, as though their hearts were sealed from the story of our own personal joys and fears.
Since I’ve chosen to live a life of distance from others (except for writing, like now), loneliness tapped on my door for a long time before I noticed.
Researchers say that men will lose some seven years of a life alone, against the alternate life they’d share with their partners. Living alone, one needs to search for one’s purpose, instead of knowing it in a mate’s touch, or smile. Without her or him, there’s no one to respond to words that once found bright echoes, once mattered to a close Other. We know we’re separate, and we know there’s a good chance we’ll be separate for the rest of our lives.
The Internet, does that help? For some, they say. Internet relationships work well for those of the golden mean. If you’re live at either end of the gold, you’ll be untouched, and silent.
How can you tell someone you’ve just met, of the lifetimes you’ve lived till this minute, and learn about theirs? It will take a million words to say hello, unless they have a soulmate’s touch of who you are, and you find the same within yourself.
If you had a old wind-up clock that ticked away the minutes, you can finally let it stop. Trouble is, when it stops ticking, it adds to the silence.