In his book, Loneliness, Clark Moustakas, wrote, “We go it alone.”

This, of course, does not mean friendship is not important to life and to our human journey. It is. Moustakas, however, based on the pain of watching his young daughter suffer, was faced with the reality that his presence with her could only reach so far into her pain. This caused him to realize that at a very essential level, we are each alone in our journey–or “with ourselves.” He too, was alone in the pain of watching his daughter suffer.

This is one of the difficult parts of watching the tragedy in Haiti. As I watch the images, I wish to any god that would hear, that we could rewind the days and just avoid the tragedy altogether. The devastation is hard to digest. What is even more difficult is realizing, that so many people, are “going it alone.” Is help on the way. Yes. And we can all do something. And we should. Yet, a husband looking for his wife is, at one level, going it alone. A mother weeping over her child is, in some way, going it alone.

It’s not an immediately consoling thought to know that the people in my life cannot go with me into my pain. They can come alongside; but there is a kind of journey we each make into ourselves that we cannot exactly bring others into. The best others can do is relate and support–two essential qualities of community. Neither relating nor supporting though takes away my personal journey into loneliness or pain.

Moustakas, is his book, argues that each of us should face this radical loneliness, come to terms with it, and be better for it and in it. As I read his thoughts, I thought,

Is that really necessary? It’s not exactly a “happy meal” thought to face this loneliness. Perhaps it’s not wise to face something unless I absolutely have to. Maybe I can avoid it. Sort of the, what I don’t know won’t hurt me, idea. Or, why not let sleeping dogs lie, line of reasoning. Maybe I could just keep my radical loneliness over in the dusty corner and just not go over there. 

But then of course, I realized how incomplete of an idea my thought was. Why? Because life has this way of revealing my loneliness–from disappointments that happen during the day, to life-altering tragedies that are not fair and cause me to look to blame some higher power. I’m confronted, regularly, with the reality that the limits of human connection are real. But, I also see that, this loneliness is not meant to be a cruel punishment, but an invitation for me to deal with my loneliness (or my “alone-ness”) and turn it into something terribly creative and unique.

I’m not sure I’m up for it. One thing is certain, whether I am or not, I will have to go it alone.