February 10, 2023

I’ve been awfully lonely, lately, on the inside.

I’ve been awfully lonely, lately, on the inside. Especially in evenings when I’m home, in, alone.

I’m okay. I’m taking care of myself, and I’m a little or all the way open about things with people, whether they’re asking “how are you?,” or really asking.

But on the outside, I know everyone, I enjoy people, I appreciate my life deeply, I love my work, and I probably come off as, well, not lonely.

I’ve often said that I have a huge, deep, lovely community…and few best friends, a smaller inner circle. Many I’ve lost, more or less, to their partnerships, to their families, to parenthood, to moving away…and that’s all fine and understandable. But it’s still sad. And then, last year, as I’ve written about, I lost the love of my life (we broke up, and now I’m living another life, with another love in my future), and my best friend (whoosh, ghosted).

I’m lucky to have a best friend or two or 5 still around, still caring.

But when I was sick last month, two caring souls brought me soup and remedies—none of my best friends did. It took folks hearing about it on Facebook. One of them, and her family, I’ve been close with for some time. The other, we comment and discuss things constantly, but she showed up out of caring, she didn’t have to.

And so I’m left at what should be the pinnacle of so much growth and success with a year of losses–a debilitating ongoing injury to my arms (nearly preventing me from biking, completing preventing me from upper body activity), my mom in painful health, a best friend gone, a fiancee no longer a fiancee, 20 dear colleagues laid off at an Elephant bashed in by Facebook/IG (we’re still going strong; we’re resilient), my dear dog in 3.5 months of pain before dying in my arms.

But, too, as I’ve written, there’s been good happy moments—my second book, thanks to Lindsey and countless readers, Elephant was able to get in a new budget and become stable and profitable again thanks in large part to my powerful colleagues who stayed stable, and my slow-and-hard-learned, caring leadership in a year of loss.

I’ve got a sweet home, work I love, most of my health, a loving fun community, a bike or three, and some besties. I can’t complain, but I also don’t mind opening up.

Because when we open up, we empower others to let go of FOMO and “Best Life” BS, and to Be Here, Now, with the life we have, and find how to grow from here, out, in service, to this planet, our animal friends, and one another. Life is short, and precious, and worth feeling honestly, and being honest about ourselves, if only to ourselves, and working and playing to be in service with others.

Loneliness, then, is not an obstacle, but the surest and shortest route to our genuinely good, sweet, broken, soft, powerful, caring hearts. Active love is the only real love, as MLK reminds us. May we live in active love and genuine feeling with reality, starting here, starting now.

As @christineolivia_ and I discussed in our wifi-challenged @walkthetalkshow earlier tonight, our capacity to feel sadness, loss, grief, trauma, compassion, and empathy deepens and widens and increases our capacity to feel joy, celebration, playfulness, love, and peace. May you make friends with your sweet heart. Be kinder to yourself. Be kinder to others. Be kinder to animals. Be kinder to our planet.

“From the dictionary’s point of view, sadness has negative connotations. If you feel sad, you feel unfortunate or bad. Or you may be sad because you don’t have enough money or you don’t have any security. But from the Shambhala point of view, sadness is also inspiring. You feel sad and empty-hearted, but you also feel something positive, because this sadness involves appreciation of others. You would like to tell those who are still stuck in their cocoons that, if they got out of the cocoon, they would also feel that genuine sadness. That empty-heartedness is the principle of the broken-hearted warrior. As an ex-cocooner, you feel it is wonderful that people of the past have gotten out of their cocoons! All the warriors of the past had to leave their cocoons. You wish you could let the cocooners know that. You would like to tell them that they are not alone.”

~ Chogyam Trungpa, from Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala. Thank you, Lopa, for sending it over.


For more on sadness and pain and joy and elegance:

Pretty much my favorite Buddhist quote ever.

The Buddhist teachings on loneliness are so helpful. There’s no getting away from loneliness, and we shouldn’t want to:

The Buddhist View of Loneliness as a Good Thing.

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