Language of Loneliness

I was reading one of my favorite science fiction novels, Dune, over the holiday weekend. I love how each time you come to a beloved, well-read story you can still find new treasure nuggets within. Despite taking place in a fantasy universe with sand worms and spice, the story, like all great stories, is one of the humanity’s struggles against inside and outside forces, and one that we can learn and grow from in our own lives. At the beginning of the book, as Lady Jessica is embarking on changes within and without her family that will change her world and ultimately the entire universe, she has an exchange with a previous mentor.

 

The old woman said, “You mustn’t let yourself hope so much.”

Jessica shook the tears from the corners of her eyes. It was an angry gesture. In a low voice, she said: “I’ve been so lonely.”

“It should be one of the tests,” the old woman said. “Humans are almost always lonely.” (Herbert 24)

 

The Beatles told another story of loneliness in the song "Eleanor Rigby."

All the lonely people

Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people

Where do they all belong?

Advice for overcoming loneliness abounds on the internet. As I exercised my Google-fu, I found countless articles for dealing with loneliness, everything from the practical make a plan and get out of the house to the metaphysical commune with higher beings.

Nonetheless, today’s blog is not a primer for overcoming loneliness. I am certainly not an expert on the subject as just like most people I too struggle with these feelings on a regular basis. Instead, this blog’s purpose is to open the door to the discussion of loneliness, of feeling alone, and of feeling isolated from others. The first step, in my very un-expert opinion, to dealing with a subject is bringing it to the light and giving it words.

And words, words are what I do; language is what I can offer to the world. So, my small attempt to help with the loneliness of life begins with language: specifically idiomatic ways to discuss it. Thus, this topic of rather forlorn language is an important one of exploration to give people various ways to express what they may already be feeling.

Proverb:

LAUGH AND THE WORLD LAUGHS WITH YOU; WEEP AND YOU WEEP ALONE.

This is an English proverb, a bit of cultural wisdom that basically suggests that in times of sadness or difficulty, you are most often alone. I don’t necessarily agree with it in that it is possible to develop deep relationships with people willing to stand with you through the tears; however, I do agree that for the masses of people, the casual acquaintances that for so many of us do make up the world, they probably will not stick around for the crying.

Proverb:

MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE.            

This is an English proverb suggesting that people need to have more than just their physical needs met in order to find fulfillment. We also have emotional, psychological, spiritual and even creative needs as well. The more of these needs that we are able to fulfill, the more satisfactory lives we can achieve.

Idiom:

GO IT ALONE

This means to do something on one’s own, often in a way usually accomplished by pairs or teams. Sometimes, this phrase is said in frustration or anger at a situation.

For example:

I don’t need anyone’s help with this project! I’m going to go it alone!

Idiom:

LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE

This means to stop attempting to do something; there are many idioms for this kind of sentiment such as “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” “don’t rock the boat,” and “don’t upset the apple cart.” They all mean the same basic thing here.

For example:

 She seems quite happy in that relationship, so why does she keep arguing with her boyfriend about his job? She should just leave well enough alone.

Idiom:

DOWN IN THE DUMPS

One of the places  Americans put their trash is called “the dump,” so perhaps a meaning of this phrase could be feeling down where the trash is put, or the bottom of the bottom where everything that is rejected goes.

For example:

After fighting with her good friend last night about meaningless issues, she really felt down in the dumps.

Idiom:

GO OFF THE DEEP END

This phrase relates to an emotional outburst or breakdown, usually one of anger or depression. It is often applied to someone’s actions or words.

For example:

She cut up all his clothes and burned all his pictures when they broke up. She really went off the deep end, didn’t she?

Idiom:

FEELING THE BLUES

To be blue is to be sad. There is an entire soulful genre of music called the Blues whose verses and rhymes examine the injustices and difficulties of life but also the joys within as well. I personally love the Blues and have several artists that I listen to. I have recently discovered this one, Janiva Magness, who I am totally in love with and currently listening to all her youtube videos. Here is one of my favorites, “You Were Never Mine.”

Yes, loneliness can be melancholy and gloomy, and we don’t seek out this condition by any means, but humans have a range of emotions, and we do need language to express how we may be feeling at any given time. Remember, the point of language is communication, so don’t be afraid to communicate your feelings, be they good or bad. It is the connection to others that gets us through the difficult times.

Dorthy Day once wisely said, “We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.”

I would add a connection to others is part of the answer, and one way to find that connection is through language.