Fundamental, existential Aloneness dances with a fundamental, existential partner called Connection. We experience both aloneness and connection on an emotional level – as varieties of fear or love – and indeed they are two sides of the same coin, as primal to the human identity as dark and light.
Which is not to say aloneness is dark, bad, undesirable. It is a fact of life, as we each inhabit our separate skin and mark our individual identity. It goes with the human territory. Maybe our sense of aloneness is the ego itself, fighting for its life when we seek to surpass it with authentic connection. Aloneness is not necessarily one-dimensional and isolating, however; it can open to deeper and wider realms of connection, to self as well as to life force and universal energy.
A deep connection to self goes beyond mere identification with one’s own body, mind, ego, personality or identified belief. It can mean a greater sense of personal fulfillment, more meaningful choices for work, play, healing practice, growth. Self-connection can also broaden into experience of connection with other animals, plants, the beauty of cliffs, the sea.
Connection with the universe, with all life, with the earth, with humanity and community, can hold meaning in the abstract yet still lack live emotional satisfaction. What matters to our happiness and peace of mind is both an understanding of our reality, and emotional satisfaction with it.
Connections with other people, family, friends and lovers feels more meaningful and satisfying, as we share and exchange: food and stories, feelings and dreams, work and play, beliefs and values, experiences and reflections, care and support.
Connection, however, like aloneness, carries complications and complex potentials; the package comes with stresses and pitfalls as well as sweetness and love.
When we engage in interpersonal relationships our old emotions are triggered. Our patterns of control and attachment play out, testing our ability to let go of being in charge (the ego’s desired domain) and allow life to do more of its share of giving and taking.
Emotion complicates the picture because the body stores in its patterns of tension the imprints of past emotional experience. Some emotion in present time is not an accurate reflection of present circumstances but is being triggered or spontaneously arises in the body-mind as an emotional memory. So it makes sense to clear those areas of body tension with conscious release of held energy, and to bring more awareness and choice to repetitive patterns that do not serve us and that hold us back from present connection. Bodywork, yoga, and other techniques of body-mind meditation can even clear blocked energy directly; though it can help, especially at first, to understand the history and stories involved.
Release and awareness allow space to be opened for new and present emotional experience to become available. The process of clearing blocked energy results in lower stress and improved quality of life in both dimensions we inhabit, that of Aloneness and Connection.
Aloneness, both real and imagined, isn’t going away anytime soon. Neither is our connection, both actual and potential. Our experience contains both, along with a full spectrum of emotions as part of the package. Aloneness/Connection makes a complex polarity, true of our human and social nature as well as the fundamental physical nature of the universe, which is comprised simultaneously of particles and waves, matter and energy, gravitation and entropy.
The existential complementarity of Aloneness and Connection manifests throughout our experience. One clear example is engagement with group music or dance: where we simultaneously must hold our part, steady and grounded, while also interacting in sensitive, fluid interplay with the others. The satisfying balance comes in the middle, where we are neither closed, rigid and mechanical, nor wandering and wobbling through the dance of possibilities. In the middle, the place of balance, the feel is rounded, full, alive, both solid and unified. One’s participation carries both personal integrity and expression, and responsive connection with the whole.
Connection and Freedom – the political dimension
An intriguing aspect of aloneness is the cultural ideal known as “freedom.” Freedom implies independence of action; yet in emotional terms, aloneness and isolation undermine the rewards of freedom. Still the ego advances onward in pursuit of further independence, personal power and control, seeking to surpass and transcend the limitations of connection – constraints, compromises, promises and disappointments.
Freedom and independence also imply emotional neutrality, which may or may not be a good thing. Wearing the mask of aloofness and arrogance, the too-vulnerable, too-humble, not-good-enough ego attempts retreat from the troublesome emotions of actual engagement, seeking instead to define and justify its own standards of success.
Not surprisingly, the same ideal of freedom, writ large as a cultural ideal, results in America’s lack of connection with the rest of the world. “The bastion of freedom,” in its own self-aggrandizing mythology, America extends its power machinery globally to quash human life and liberty wherever it threatens to infringe on the empire’s secure investments, resources and markets – in the process further isolating itself from popular world opinion, while locked in a cruel mating dance of codependency with co-conspirators such as Britain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and lesser client states and puppet regimes.
Freedom as an ideal sounds appealing, but where does it lead? In Orwellian terms, it leads to slavery. The ego’s pursuit of freedom implies the illusion of its own power and autonomy. Unchecked by the compromises of connection among equals, the ego’s precious freedom enslaves others who stand in its way, and in the end the ego has no freedom left, because it has painted itself into a corner, isolated and ineffectual.
The paradox extends to Connection as well. While multilateralism is painted by the empire of the ego as too limiting to unilateral freedom, in truth the paradigm of connection opens more opportunities for free exchange, in a climate of mutual respect and encouragement. But of course, the national ego chained to its imperial ambitions cannot hear such a challenge to its absolute authority. It will take the rude hand of experience and karma to bring it to its knees, begging for forgiveness by the rest of the world community.