How do you explain loneliness? What is it about?
Admittedly, I had my own idea of loneliness. I have often felt lonely in my life. It was a common topic to think about in my childhood. Watching no one on a weekend, not talking to anyone and not turning on either the computer or the TV – that was loneliness. Not negative, more value-free. What I have missed at that time was the fact that I could have changed this situation anytime. If I think about loneliness today then only in terms of situations and living conditions that can not be changed. I do not want to talk about the sad conditions in nursing homes. Its all about what I call territorial loneliness.
I got to know the loneliness on the sea.
Crossing an ocean takes about 10 to 40 days, depending on the ship, the route and the ocean. Most people approach this adventure as a crew. Usually with at least 4 guys onboard. We decided to cross the ocean just the two of us. In retrospect, I think we could only understand the vastness of the sea and the size of the project in that way. I’m happy that we were alone.
Otherwise I might never have met this loneliness. This one which can not be avoided, which does not just let up, which tears and tears at one. Which is sometimes felt in the throat and sometimes in the abdomen and flooded with tears from time to time.
If you go sailing alone, there is an exact plan. A plan of everything. When to sleep and when to eat. When is change of shift and when to cook. And here it goes: Holger slept, I sailed, I cooked, we ate and I fell into bed. Holger has sailed, checked maps, passed through positions. It’s endless. Already after 2 days we barely communicated with each other. That’s not because something is wrong between us. We were both too tired. Our communication was about the position, the weather, and to remind the other to drink enough.
But while lacking communication your own thoughts do not stop. You just do not want to tell them anymore. And apart from the sleeping or watch-holding sailor you can not communicate. The technical communication via satellite is extremely limited too. Every bit and byte is needed for weather and position data. Emails and anti-social media are out of the question. Electricity is not available indefinitely. In the head, the thoughts run around, revolve around something, throw it back, find a new idea and run from place to place. It’s strange to think about when you stop talking. I’ve been wondering for days whether we have a free will. What will I do first when I see land, what I’m going to do, when the trip is over, or what I’ve done so far. How is everything so far in my life?
Already on the 4th day we were so tired that we only spent about 1 waking hour together.
And then she came, the loneliness. On the ocean. Far outside. Just staring at the water is nice. To see the stars clearly in the sky is also beautiful and it is lonely. Exactly because you can not avoid it. You can’t jump in a taxi and drive into the city. This kind of loneliness hurts. It makes you realize how powerless you are. Waiting until the wind carries us to the shores of Central America can seem like forever. Being patient, enjoying small events is not so common in everyday life. Do not call a friend and arrange a glass, do not check emails – just be there.
From time to time I saw dolphins jumping. They come and go, as if they knew that a little variety is urgently needed. As if to clarify: there is life on this planet. We both had no desire for music. To read we were usually too tired and after many technical difficulties and breakdowns we had to deal with, we also lacked the concentration to read a book with the necessary attention. After 16 days of such loneliness, I entered land, embraced other sailors, and felt much less lonely thereafter.
When I feel lonely today I think about the time at sea. The time in which I knew exactly I can not dodge, can not get away or anyone here. My answer to how loneliness is created is not quite polished yet. She is good at “creeping quietly”, she does not like the big performance. It has a lot to do with lack of communication and some of the feeling of powerlessness.
But one thing I know: anyone who speaks today in normal life of normal health of loneliness, should be exposed to this territorial inevitable loneliness. It is exciting to see what this feeling does, how we treat ourselves, when we only have ourselves and nothing else.
Walking alone through Scotland, spending a few nights in the desert or crossing a sea helps to feel the loneliness in a different way. Immediate and true. / KB