Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A letter to the friendless and unloved. I propose it is better to be alone forever in a padded cell than isolated in your own home. Loneliness leads ultimately to untimely loss of wits, and no amount of comfort can save you from prolonged exposure to it. Far from it in fact! I believe it may well speed up the degradation of the mind. Things once comforting, familiar possessions, may take on a sinister new sheen come the hundredth double take. Like a word spoken over and over again becomes guttural, unintelligible noise, possessions viewed on an endless pacing carousel shed their purpose. The most simple item can become a frightful artifact without the silent confirmation, which a human can emanate whilst a lamp cannot, that an ashtray is an ashtray.

As a matter of fact, your belongings posses many maddening techniques should you have them as your only guest for any length of time. Furnishings are cunning, tricky and work in packs. Upon attempting to relax on your sofa, you may survey the contents of the living room: soft cushions, cat ornaments and beige picture frames. These seemingly inoffensive pastel fittings can easily lull you into a thoughtful stupor, which only serves to amplify your terror as the wind embeds a door into its frame, or a pipe lets out a anthropomorphic belch.

Being surrounded by all too familiar possessions poses other more subtle threats to the sanity of the lonely individual. Depending on how long you have lived before becoming isolated, many of your possessions may echo with the voices, smells and textures of those you knew and loved prior to your current situation. You would think that the most powerful of these items would be pictures or letters, but this is wrong. Beware of the small and inconsequential things, beads and fridge magnets and the like. Such seemingly innocent items may well be loaded with emotional tripwires. Where a letter can be avoided and shut in the dark of a drawer, something small and forgotten can lie dormant for years, waiting  to catch your eye or snare your heart. The effect may be instant stabbing sadness, as you remember interaction, trivial at the time, yet desperately unobtainable now you are alone. Or worse, it could capture your gaze for hours, a key that unlocks a whole host of images from your past, an unstoppable deluge, as you sit there mute, inert and full of pathos forced to view the soul rending slide-show in its entirety.

There may be those who argue that there are allies in the comfortable house, conducive to a  healthy active mind. This is true in the short term, but only for those with a robust social life! Writing can be therapeutic, but the lengthy absence of interaction may lead to creation of long rambling passages to fictional audiences, or worse, yourself! Reading and watching television are also fine distractions, indeed at the beginning of your hermitage these activities will most likley hold your attention making you smile, frown and ponder. However as time progresses and with nobody to discuss your love of literature or your dislike of a particular candidate on The Apprentice, you will find yourself turning to your own mind for conversation. Thoughts on a subject recently read or viewed, if not shared in good time, can pollute the brain. Your thoughts on a matter become your thoughts on your thoughts on a matter and so on. After a period you will no doubt have the book open, or the T.V on, pointlessly though. You will be focusing intently at the wall, transfixed by your own introspection.

The trouble with loneliness is that it is a silent, creeping feeling. Not like love or hate, which seize and shake you on their arrival, nor longing or hunger, which slowly prod and pester until they reach an unbearable crescendo. You will not know you are truly lonely until you are desperately alone and as such it is difficult to guard against. So what do I propose to those stuck in this rut, solitary, blue and reaching a state of mania. Get out of the house more.

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