LONER BUT NOT LONELY
By George Merlo Pallath
Humans are one of the most sociable species that ever existed on planet Earth. Humans thrive as societies due to their social character. The success of humans as a species and the reason that humans are the dominant species on planet Earth can be attributed to our sociable character and the capacity to work together as a group for achieving the common objectives. For the general health of humans they require the support of society. Friends and relatives help in uplifting the mental health of the person. People love being recognized and adored by our fellow beings. Every person needs to be recognized, loved and accepted by his peer group. It is a basic requirement of every individual.
But society also has its fair share of negativities. Societies tend to be rule oriented. So every member of any society must obey the rules of the society or risk being ostracized. Every society has its share of leaders who set the rules, control the individuals, discipline the people. In societies people tend to follow the leaders and show the ape like quality of trying to emulate, follow and mimic the leaders. Even otherwise, the humans are apish in behavior and always tend to mimic their peers who have influence over them. There is a tendency for all individuals to follow the beaten path, be with the majority, follow the crowd. This has its own pitfalls. The majority need not be correct or they may be going down the wrong path. The history of the human society is replete with examples of how some leaders led their followers into doom. The very same sociable character of humans have been exploited by fascist, cunning leaders, religions, isms who were responsible for the countless wars, genocide, racist attacks, religious fundamentalism and nationalistic jingoism.
But in every society there are loners, drifters, those who do not obey the rules of the society and beat their own path. They are almost always ostracized from the society life. These people tend to think differently. They see the world differently. They have their own private life and outlook. They are adept at keeping aloof from others. These loners take a different path. They never follow the crowd. They don’t like others to interfere in their affairs or privacy. They don’t understand the tribe and the tribe does not understand them. These loners tend to be absolute failures in public relations. To put it differently they just don’t care a damn what the world thinks of them.
The sociable, law abiding, “flow with the general trend” people cannot make head or tail of these loners. They consider them as odd or even loony. They are labeled as “eccentric”, neurotic or even schizophrenic people. But it is these odd eccentric people who tend to see things differently. They see things in a different perspective. They are the ones who differ and oppose the generally held view. They challenge the generally held notions about everything and extend the boundaries.
People tend to think that these loners are alone and feel lonely. But that is not the case. These loners want to be left alone. Nothing gives them more satisfaction than to sit alone someplace quiet and meditate over things that interest them. They are mistaken for being mean when they are honest, mistaken for being sad, when they want to be alone, mistaken for being shy when they are quiet. Alone in their world, they are one with the universe and they enjoy the solitude that it gives them. These lone wolves tread their own path. They are fiercely independent and try their level best to preserve and protect their privacy. But their mind is always exploring, pondering, searching, feeling and reaching out to the unknown. Their thoughts are fathomless, breathtaking, luminous and all encompassing.
As Steven Aitcheson puts it “Deep in my heart, I know that I am a loner. I have tried to blend in with the world and be sociable. But the more people I meet, the more disappointed I am. I have learned to enjoy myself, my family and a few good friends. But Sometimes I love my alone time. Because it is in those moments of solitude, I can remember who I am and what is important in life.” And again he says “There is a lot of pain in being lonely. But there is a lot of beauty in being alone.” Making and following your own path is fully worth the freedom and the overpowering feeling of being liberated from the chains of the society.
Dalai Lama puts it more succinctly “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they are not on your road, does not mean that they are lost”.
But nobody can ever underestimate the contributions made by these lone wolves to the general good and survival of the society. Due to their different perspective on everything, they are more likely to tread roads less travelled by the majority and they are more likely to hit upon innovative and novel methods of solving problems and creativity is their forte. This is borne out by the numerous artists, writers, musicians, painters and inventors who are all lone wolves. The human society needs more of these lone wolves who think differently, who does not follow the crowd, who have a mind of their own. But nobody should ever expect these loners to follow the crowd. They hate crowds and avoid it like plague. This planet does not need more successful people. This planet desperately requires more peacekeepers, story tellers, healers, restorers and lovers of all kinds.
To be one self, to live as we want, to do what we want to do, to go where we want to go, to shed the pretences of society, to do away with trying to impress everyone, to adjust and adapt with people that you do not want to be with or avoid being in the company of people that you do not like, to avoid blah blah of meaningless talk which is the very essence of society animals. To be Ourself. To throw away all images, self imposed and imposed by those around you. Wah. That is real freedom. “Learning to be alone, and enjoying it, is the most empowering gift you can give yourself.” Steven Aitchison