almost no one makes it out

by s.

There is a tremendous, tremendous amount of space between the moment you first say hello and the one where you say I love you. Sometimes there’s so much space that you never even get to it at all; the words wither and die in the back of your brain before they ever come out.

This kind of self-editing is necessary where social constructs are concerned; it would be crazy – and lose its impact – if you were to tell people you loved them from the start. Still, there are moments when guards are let down and things become worth it. When you meet people, you sometimes have to chase them in order to keep them. Once kept, you have to decide how close you can get. Usually, you have to tell them. There’s a leap of faith – or five, or sixteen – in there, always.

Why am I mentioning the obvious here? Because it has come to my attention recently that about 80 percent of the top humans in my life are lonely, and the slow crawl out of that loneliness must begin in order for anyone to ever feel any better. I once re-friended an ex who was going through a rough time and I wrote him a pep talk in the form of a blog entry. To date it is the most hopeful thing I have ever written, and yet there are moments where I feel it isn’t quite enough for us. It doesn’t quite get us at the place where we are our worst. You see, when we’re banding together to commiserate, when there is wine or whiskey or perhaps cheese to share, we have actually already won.

What will help the moments when we are actually so lonely that all we want is to be alone? I asked myself this yesterday while asking a friend to stay for dinner. He was having trouble looking me in the eye; I was having trouble convincing him that my butterscotch pudding was a step towards happiness. It wasn’t the first conversation of its kind I’ve had in the last week. It is easiest to be a shut-in when you need most not to be.

Prior to that conversation, I was pushing a book on a resistant friend. He didn’t understand that I was recommending it not because he needed something to read, but because he needed it. He needed someone else’s rock bottom to use as a guide, and there is only one person who is quite as good as that as William James. That person is Cheryl Strayed.