in the latter part of my month off, i spent more time by myself again – first at Confest and then camping in Gippsland. In the last four or five months, i’d been to many festivals and parties alone and have written about the loneliness of doing that. having just gone on the meditation retreat and still keeping with the practice, i hoped that something would have changed for the better in that regard.
at confest, it seemed at first that nothing had changed really, not fundamentally. While i was happy enough during the day, as the night progressed i grew more tired, more lonely and sadder. The company of friends didnt make much of a difference, they were a distraction for a time but inevitably i would feel dissatisfied and continue wandering. It was pretty apparent what was happening. I had no wish to return to my campsite and my bed by myself. The strength of my craving for a partner and my fear of being alone later was enough to make me miserable in spite of being with friends at that moment. Gaining some insight into the situation unfortunately didnt make much difference into how i was feeling.
what did change things was a memory of previous confests which i had attended with my partner at that time and also of other parties. I’d felt lonely then too – not as much of course but enough times. My loneliness was not a function of whether i had a partner or not, if i was with friends or not, if I was by myself or not. I’d been trying to solve a problem using the wrong solutions.
So, sometime while at Confest, I gave up trying to solve it.
I told myself:
“Loneliness will always be present. At times it will be stronger, at times weaker, at times close to non-existent. Do not wish it to go when it is there, do not fear its return when it is not there.”
It made things better in the sense that when i got tired and lonely late at night, I went to bed, meditated a little and slept. The mornings were always glorious as were the days.
In Gippsland after Confest was over i camped by myself without the company of anyone at all. I spent much time walking along the beach, looking at the surf, twirling my practice-staff, lying in the sand and feeling the heat of the unseasonally clear weather. I did not feel lonely. Or if I did, I do not recall it now.