Lonely in the present


Sometimes, I’m lonely with a loneliness that people can’t fill, and so it is that the lonelier I am, the more I desire solitude. Solitude allows me to reflect on things that dont seem that interesting to most people, a fact which increases my desire for solitude...

In Buddhism and Taoism, there’s an emphasis on being in the present. I’ve never understood this because it seems to me that if I’m doing something boring that it’s an excellent time to not be in the present, but to think of things more profound than, let’s say, doing dishes. I’m not saying that doing dishes can’t be profound, but why would I make it my goal to become completely absorbed by the chore of doing dishes every time I wash dishes? Yet, I’ve seen this recommended in many books (Be Here Now, Chop Wood Carry Water, the writings of Alan Watts, Thomas Merton, Thích Nhất Hạn, and others). As to why, they only say that the present is where we are, so if our minds are someplace else, then were not completely alive. We’re half dead then? I don’t see myself as ever being incompletely alive; it’s simply that some things energize me, and other things enervate me, and a focus upon the present isn’t always the most energizing option.

The painting is Three Friends in Winter by Ma Yuan (1160-1225).

15 comments:

rhymeswithplague said...

My non-Christian inner voice (every Christian has one) wants to say, "WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT?"

You made me go to the dictionary for innervate, but basically you have me realize that you have unearthed the long-lost original introduction to Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

Sonia Rodriguez said...

All I can say is wow I fully understood that. I do find the lonelier I am the more solitude I do seek not the more company of people as others close to me think.

xoxoxo

Myrna R. said...

Sp true, the present isn't always exciting. You make me realize that the moments when I try to be present are most often when I'm in nature, enjoying the treat of earth. I've done the dishes to do the dishes, but my mind is rarely still. I like solitude, but luckily, I'm not lonely, though I have been in the past.
Hope you find happiness in the solitude of your own company because, really, you're a most interesting person.

Strayer said...

Obviously those people who wrote the always in the present books have never enjoyed or had to multi task. Too bad for them. They're only half living, or a third living, as some people can do more than two things at once very well. Wash dishes, tap dance while creating theories on particle physics.

The Elephant's Child said...

I am much, much more likely to feel lonely when I am with people than when I am by myself. And yes, you are right there are moments (sometimes hours) when I don't want to be there. So I let my mind wander (fortunately it always finds its way back to me).

PhilipH said...

At present I'm looking to the past.
I'm happiest remembering the most exciting times of my earlier life, never thinking of any of the hurtful and/or sad periods. It may be futile looking back and wishing for those happy and exciting times to return,impossible of course.

Except in the solitude of one's own memories.

Charles Gramlich said...

The beauty of having a human mind is that we can be in two places at the same time, our body in one (with part of our mind), and the rest of our mind elsewhere. Why try to deny that part of ourselves? Make use of it. It is a gift.

Marion said...

I'm never lonely as long as I have my books. I've love my fictional friends since I began reading at age 5. They totally love me back, too. xo

Kerry said...

I wouldn't want to be completely in the present all of the time either. I think it's good to mentally escape from the mundane.

lotta joy said...

I don't think I'm EVER in the present. And I figured out that is the reason I can never remember where I was, what I ate, or where the car is parked.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

I've always wondered the same...

Kert said...

For me, thinking about other things other than the present is like an opium. It numbs me and makes me forget about the present, which is usually bleak. I hope we both find happiness in the present.

Gina Gao said...

I agree that we tend to feel more alone when we're with people sometimes.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Deb said...

I love what The Elephant Child said --- sometimes it definitely is lonelier when you're surrounded by many. And I totally agree --- I do NOT want to be in the present when I am having pain. No no no.

But.... There is something my favorite minster, Joyce Meyer always says, "I'm not where I wanna be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be." Then again, maybe for some, the past was better?

All Consuming said...

I generally like to be original, but I agree word for word with TEC here - "I am much, much more likely to feel lonely when I am with people than when I am by myself. And yes, you are right there are moments (sometimes hours) when I don't want to be there. So I let my mind wander (fortunately it always finds its way back to me). " - I think its down to you Snow that TEC and I met, thank you for that, I'm not hugely sociable, but some folks make a big difference. You are also one of these of course. I'm always somewhere else and here at the same time.