Isolation that is not born from choice destroys lives. That feeling, like you’re the only person inhabiting a small island, can feel incredibly debilitating. Add to this a view that isn’t miles upon miles of endless water, but whole worlds close and clearly visible, of which you are not a part. Worlds where people are fulfilled, active and largely oblivious to the depth of contribution you’re able to make. There is a different quality to this experience of isolation; where being alone is one thing, but being alone and in tight proximity to connection is quite another.
Whether you’re on an island of your own awkwardness, greatness, single life or even parenthood; finding an exit that doesn’t involve drowning in a sea of who you are not, can be a lifelong trial. It’s neither a marathon nor a sprint; more a social triathlon, where even if you complete the initial swim, there still remains the varied mental assaults of trying to keep up with the native inhabitants. These people, no matter how settled into their land you become, will always feel as though they could, at any moment, drift again just out of reach. There is the consistent feeling that you are not on steady footing, that you are not home.
There are of course hacks available; short term tricks to present oneself in more appealing ways that compensate or mask just enough of your authentic self to allow you to slot into place. Yes, you can make more of an effort, you can ‘step out of your comfort zone’ – and into someone else’s – but what if the reality is simply that some people in this world are destined to skirt the edges of life, or to walk alone entirely?
It is worth considering how life might change if one learns to revere a position on the periphery, without coveting those at the core of the tribe.
There are people who feel like outsiders in this world because they are truly outsiders. They feel side-lined because daily they are being ignored; or they feel forgotten and misunderstood because, well, they are. Isolation, though painful when combined with loneliness, is the natural habitat for some. The obvious advice is to tell them to find an angle or a way through it, but there is another choice.
Meditation can, if it’s aligned with you, go some way to being an anchor into contentment. Sitting down to centre yourself amongst ancestors, guides and divine beings who love and are forever interested in you, is one of the most soul-gratifying ways to reconnect with the world. It’s inside work that affects outside life. Your sun shines brighter, you become magnetic to the things that deeply serve you. Meditation is a compass to the truth of who you are and it can hold you when no one else will. It can remind you, when you doubt, that you are a real person and that you are never alone.
This practice is not just about silence, stopping the noise and distractions. It’s also about celebrating and revelling in the orchestra that is within you, the one that is always rooting for you, on your team. Meditation is as much about opening up your inner world as it is shutting down the outer. Feeling part of something, the tribe or the clan, is more than skin deep, it goes to the very core of our species and yet there are more avenues of separation than there have ever been. There are people you walk amongst who are connected to everything but themselves and whilst it may look impressive, it is a fate that comes with its own issues.
If there are ever moments when being alone becomes too intense, where you feel like things are too difficult or that you have nowhere to turn – please, take a seat. Close your eyes and ask your people to appear. If you ask them they will come, if you listen carefully you will hear them and if you keep an open heart, you will feel them.