Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bad Wednesday

Isolation is a terrible thing. Whether it is self-imposed or not, it has the effect of negating a part of your humanity. This is why it’s such an effective punishment and oft-used torture tactic—the human mind can and does convince itself of almost anything.

There are many places in which one can feel alone—a penthouse tower, looking down on the masses from above, a tiny, poorly lit tenement that reeks of garbage and humanity. But why is it that for many of us, the worst kind of loneliness occurs when one is surrounded by other people?

The worst part is that people seem to notice that something’s wrong, and want to help. But the more they try to help, the more one tries to explain, the worse it gets. Smile, they say, come join us. But the isolation is a shroud that hangs over you, a hood that protects you from having to function in the world outside your own head. You want to try to explain, but you can’t because you don’t know how to verbalize the chaos inside.

And so you stand there in crowded, noisy rooms and smile on cue, but you don’t really feel it. Feeling trapped inside your own head does strange things to people – makes them want to lash out at others not to ease their pain, but to feel something, anything. Some people go through their whole lives feeling this way, living and dying alone. Others take up arms against their fellow man, usually turning their weapons upon themselves as well.

Isolation does funny things to people. Some handle it better than others; some can’t handle it at all. It seems as we increase our population of the earth, we are becoming increasingly isolated from one another, each participating in our communities via computer keyboards and cellular telephone connections. Whether or not we have sought it, we have created our own solitary confinement cells from which we are seldom forced to emerge. And so we are drawn into virtual communities where we can hide behind walls and create false identities for ourselves, hiding the darkest recesses of our minds and our souls behind a façade, or worse, exposing these recesses without showing our faces.

It is an odd world we have created, an odd world we live in. Sometimes the loneliest place is a crowded room.


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