A Bouquet of Words: On Love and Loneliness

The Three GracesToday I wanted to share with you some words that spoke so powerfully to me on the subject of love, loneliness and community…

“In the beginning is the relation.”
-Martin Buber

“Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Philip Slater, in his searching study of the way Americans live together, says that all of us have a desire and need for community–“the wish to live in trust and fraternal cooperation with one’s fellows in a total and visible collective entity.  It is easy to produce examples of the many ways in which Americans attempt to minimize, circumvent, or deny the interdependence upon which all human societies are based.  We seek a private house, a private means of transportation, a private garden, a private laundry, self-service stores, and do-it-yourself skills of every kind.  An enormous technology seems to have set itself the task of making it unnecessary for one human being ever to ask anything of another in the course of going about his daily business…We seek more and more privacy, and feel more alienated and lonely when we get it…Our encounters with others tend increasingly to be competitive as a result of our search for privacy.  We less and less often meet our fellow man to share and exchange, and more and more often encounter him as an impediment or a nuisance: making the highway crowded when we are rushing somewhere, cluttering and littering the beach or park or wood, pushing in front of us at the supermarket, taking the last parking place, polluting our air and water, building a highway through our house, blocking our view and so on.  Because we have cut off so much communication with each other we keep bumping into each other, and thus a higher and higher percentage of our interpersonal contacts are abrasive.” 

from “Pursuit of Loneliness” by Philip Slater


6 thoughts on “A Bouquet of Words: On Love and Loneliness

  1. Renee says:

    Amen sister! That’s why I was so tickled (first time I saw you) to find you sitting out in the world, knit/communing with nature and the neighborhood. I thought, this is one cool chickadee! She’s not afraid of the wider world. Yesterday I came across a friend walking north on 14th at the elementary school. He was due in a few minutes at a meeting and so I drove slowly with my window down, while he walked along side me and we had a chat. What a treat. I will never forget my drive/walk chat with him, basically because it was so odd to do such a thing out in the ‘hood. I LOVE this town, and I LOVE South Hill. I looked for a year before I found a place on the hill. I knew this was the neighborhood I wanted to be in because of the wide variety of creative and gregarious people who live in it. Lovin’ life in the ‘hood.

  2. Dana says:

    I wonder why we tend to isolate ourselves when it makes us so lonely. Maybe part of it is this: as I was reading Philip Slater’s words I suddenly flashed on one of Garrison Keillor’s stories from Lake Woebegone. Everyone in the high school was wearing yellow ribbons in support of the troops. One boy didn’t want to wear a yellow ribbon and was threatened with suspension if he didn’t. The principal said that he was upsetting people. The boy put on a yellow ribbon, and Garrison Keillor said that he was right to do so, since he wasn’t strong enough yet to swim against the social tide. He also said that now the boy knew that Lake Woebegone wasn’t his home, implying that he would need to search more widely for his place in the world. The balance between being accepted and being ourselves is a tough one to achieve. Maybe separation is something we have to do to find out what we are away from the social forces that made us. The problem is then being caught in the separation without really getting to know our inner selves. I think it is when we finally have the self confidence to be different that we can wholeheartedly return to the group and offer our differences without fear. Anyway, a very compelling line of thought… thanks for bringing it up.

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