A Feeling Something Like Loneliness

  • Visiting my hometown after a few years away has got me in a reflective mood. It's been wonderful to catch up with friends, stop by and gab (gossip, more like) with my old neighbor, see the family and the sights. But the emotions are frankly more mixed than I was prepared for.

    There is the restaurant where I worked once–to all appearances unchanged, and yet the faces and voices are strange to me. All those long nights etched in memory, all those people, coworkers and even friends, all of it so all-consuming once, and now all gone. Just a strange, uncanny husk of memories remaining.

    A number of my friends have likewise moved away, and, of course, everyone has in some way moved on.

    A week from now I'll be back in Florida. I'll be busy at work, happy to settle in to my routine again, and yet aware on some level that when it comes to my hometown I can never "go back".

    Epicurean philosophy gives friendship a place of honor among pleasures. My trip home has me thinking that I want to be more intentional about this going forward. I just don't want to take the people in my life for granted–because life goes by quickly, and leaves very little that lasts.

    It's an odd feeling; I can put it no more plainly than that. It's just an odd feeling.

  • It's bittersweet how we all get busy with our lives and lose track of people and places that we were once so close to. Sometimes due to moving to new places, demanding jobs, raising a family, caregiving, all of these or many more. And it's not just people and places: at some point we can look at who we, ourselves, used to be and wonder where we went.

    I keep seeing articles and podcasts about this, sadly it seems to be pretty common these days. Epicurean friendship and prudence are invaluable in this regard; I wish that I'd discovered these tools long ago! Although the stability of the garden is long gone, the knowledge and understanding that remain can still help us in the sometimes difficult work of living.

    Odd feelings and reflective moods, pleasures and pains: our guides, for as long as we listen.

  • This is an experience that in my view emphasizes the importance of educating children early about the way things are in life - constantly moving - and that things never really come to rest for us until we die. Religions and idealistic philosophies teach the opposite - that there are permanent ideas and permanent pal-gods who will be with us not only for our whole lives but forever in eternity. One natural effect of that is to think that things will always be the same, and that in fact we'll all spend eternity united with our loved ones in heaven, so really who cares how we spend our time right now?

    If people from a young age were taught the way things are, it would be a lot easier to keep focus on how important each day is, and how we have to expect change and learn to be comfortable with it.

    I know I feel this way (about losing the past) regularly and it seems to just get more acute as we get older.

  • Quote

    And it's not just people and places: at some point we can look at who we, ourselves, used to be and wonder where we went.

    In a way it does feel almost like a kind of small death, presaging the time when the world truly will move on entirely without us. It is useful and instructive to reflect on such things, but also to remember that we are "invited to the dance" for a while longer yet.

  • Reminds me of a line we don't talk about too often:


    We must then bear in mind that the future is neither ours, nor yet wholly not ours, so that we may not altogether expect it as sure to come, nor abandon hope of it, as if it will certainly not come.

    This almost sounds like a Stoic quote, but I'm glad of that! They don't own this concept of being aware of what's in our control and what isn't. This is a good one!