What It Means to Not Be Alone

She came back from the jukebox a dollar lighter.  She turned to the man on her left and said, “Today, I need some patience – so I’m playing Patience.”

I poked through my shy exterior with drunken poetics – “We used to pray to a god, and now we pray to the jukebox.”  It sounded clever at the time.  They got me free drinks afterward, so it must have seemed clever to them, too.

It still makes sense to me now, stone-cold sober.  We reach into art to find common ground with ourselves.  It’s proof that someone, somewhere, has felt what we feel.  That’s all.  Some people talk about art like it’s there to “raise questions” or “make commentary” – usually those questions and comments are already in you somewhere.  The art just frees them.  It gives them a space in the world that you didn’t know they deserved.

So when I feel alone, that’s what I remember.  If I can find one song, one painting, one book that resonates with me, I’m not alone.  Can you even imagine being truly alone?  Maybe the last of a species.  Or the first.

Don’t confuse being alone with being lonely – we’re lonely all the time.  Every time I step outside, headphones on, staring at the sidewalk instead of the faces, I’m lonely.  But I can fix it by looking up.  I can find a face with the same lines as mine, the proof of shared feeling, the first art.  I can do this because I’m not alone.

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