Tag Archives: Loneliness

The Internal Narrative

By Justin Cude

Many times in our lives we are the only one’s keeping our story or our narrative alive, through the internal dialogue we choose to let run in continuum, many times allowing it the autonomy to remain on repeat; stop this, unless of course you remain entertained by the story you partake. Become more aware if you don’t.

This can be hard. This is hard. But, it doesn’t always have to be.

Lately in many ways I haven’t been entertained, but I will admit, in a few I have, but that’s not what this is about. Walking down the street today after grabbing an unusually timed coffee to sip on, I caught myself, well, thinking.

Catching yourself thinking can be an enlightening moment, and today it was for me. I realized today, as I have realized before, but have failed yet, until now, to write on it, that by catching yourself thinking you are grabbing a moment of complete awareness of you and of your long running, usually tumbling, narrative you have playing within. And it hit me. In the moment, surrounded by so many unfamiliar faces, embedded within a place becoming more familiar by the day, I alone am the only one aware of my own internal narrative, and I don’t necessarily know how or what to think or to feel about that, which is probably the reason why I’ve chosen to write on it. I want to see where this thought takes me.

Lately I’ve been in my head a lot, and not in the most productive or endearing of ways. Though I have understood where my mind has been of late, I admittedly have not been able to make much sense of it, finding myself overwhelmed by an unorganized clutter. Even as I write this I feel there to be no point or direction, no ending to this thought, no clarity to its muffled presence. I don’t know where this will end, but I will continue to try to write anyhow.

With this I have felt lonely lately. Alone. Not in the physical sense, because I am surrounded by people everyday; ones who love me, strangers who quickly becomes friends, apart of a group even, working towards something that the collective gathering has deemed as worthy. To me it hasn’t been lately and I don’t know why. I just feel here, somewhere on the planet, with no grounded sense of place, no anchored sense of self. Yeah, that’s what it feels like. I’m here, I know that and I see it, but lately I have not felt it and I have not understood why. The only part of me lately that feels any type of anything is my mind, my thoughts, my internal narrative which I feel I have little control of. It hasn’t been running wild, though at times it has slipped away. No, it’s very much so been here, steady even, though too heavy to pick up, too frivolous to grasp, it’s been here and I am caught in audience of its oration.

I started writing this piece almost a year ago to-date. Having just recently revisited it, I am approaching it with a different perspective from which the life that has been had since its commence has cast its influence and provided more of itself.

The internal narrative is powerful. It’s with whom most of our conversing is had. Where ideas are honed and thought through, and where the thinking of what our lives are, at any moment, occurs. That’s the big one. The thinking of what our lives are, at any moment, occurs in the internal narrative we carry with us, and that influences our lives a great deal.

Throughout our waking moments, of any given day, the internal narrative is playing. And, usually we allow this to occur without our influence. We just let it play and we find ourselves lost within its rolling. If its words are sad, we are sad. If its words are joyful, we find our selves joyful the same. If they are lost, we can’t find ours either. And if they are directed, we focus on their point. Whether this is good or bad, I truly do not know. But, if the question is asked whether or not we have influence on this, the answer most definitely is yes, if only we practice such awareness, of ourselves, of the narrative, and of the relationship between the two.

Awareness is not concentration. We do not have to focus solely on either participant of the relationship (the narrative or ourselves). Rather, we simply must be aware of the relationship between the two, the conversation they are attempting to have, and the influence both have over the other. Neither is in complete control of the other, and I don’t believe we should allow it strive for this to be so. That may seem frightening, given that we like to think we are in control of our mind, or equally as frightening to think that our mind may be in complete control of us, but the relationship is one more of involvement rather than of control. Like any strong and meaningful relationship, this is one too built upon communication.

View the narrative as open space for dialogue. Interact with the words of the narrative and communicate back with your own. If they align at moments, allow them their connection. If they don’t, given no mind to it. Give space and they will find each other again. Both will always be there. They are able to coexist in harmony or in disagreement, and they will. Nether is the end of the other. It’s a relationship to be maintained. A dance, sometimes a fight, to be had. And, simply, it’s the most meaningful conversation you could have. The catalyst for every other relationship within your world. Acknowledgment of this dialogue, awareness of its exchange, becoming apart of it rather than an a sufferer to either, ends the horrific monologue it can unrequitedly and unrelentingly become.

“You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re free from it. It’s there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it; you’re not enslaved by it. That’s the difference.” — Anthony De Mello, Awareness

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This Place Is Empty

By Justin Cude

The day was hazy as many before have been, and many beyond this I’m sure will be. I’m in a different place, and even here my life, this moment, feels the same; hazy.

The air is hot, no wind to cool the skin, not fresh enough to enjoy, nor to be active in, for its contents are as unnatural as the loneliness I find myself clutched by.

This place is empty. Not that others aren’t, just this one seems to fit the feeling. This day the same.

In the back seat of a taxi, driven by a man I only know a little of his language to communicate with, the conversation over before it had begun, we head North East towards something I want to see since I find myself close by.

I plan to spend the afternoon, most the day even, to explore this area, to witness its history first hand. I’m excited, sure, but I am also alone on this trip and I can’t seem to shake that awareness, much less the feeling I am attempting to describe.

Maybe it would be different if this had been my first extended time alone, but for reasons I am unaware of I have become quite familiar with this kind of loneliness. Again, I don’t know why. That’s just how it has worked out up to now.

Whether here or somewhere else I have traveled, somewhere else I have lived, I have often experienced deep feelings of isolation, deeper moments the same.

I have found I am able to go many places, be many places, live many places, alone, and yeah there’s some good in that, but there are moments when I battle with anxiety of being there by myself, with no one to help if needed, no one to experience it with.

These feelings have haunted the journey as well.

As irrational as this sounds, this can be felt deep within the explorations of a foreign country, or even down the street at a familiar coffee shop within my own hometown. It’s limits know no bounds. It’s creativity either.

It’s not that I am scared. It’s more that I am aware, overly aware maybe, of this feeling of empty, of alone. Aware to the point where it is sometimes hard to notice anything else. This isn’t always the case, but it still hurts at moments.

I’ve felt this in some of the worlds largest cities surrounded by a thriving populous.

I’ve felt this in the middle of a starry high-desert evening sitting alone reclined in the front seat of a rented truck.

I’ve felt this crosslegged on many coasts, staring out into the blue abyss of both ocean and sky.

I’ve felt this intwined within a shared embrace.

I’ve felt this almost everywhere.

Not all the time, but almost everywhere.

And I feel this now as I write about it, or else I wouldn’t be able to. This isn’t something you can conceive out of nothing. It’s describe very much so depends upon a well to pull from, no matter how empty it feels.

However, I hope none of you take my writing as a cry, but rather an attempt to add to our species collective desire and strive for a relatable human condition.

Notice, I didn’t say for an understanding of our human condition. I believe many people do not necessarily care for the answers to our questioning of why, nor do I believe they would benefit from them either.

Why us? Why here? Why now? Why all of this?

Forget that.

We fool ourselves with such romantic questioning at times, thinking that their answering will provide comfort. Well, we’d still be here even after their finding.

No, I believe many would benefit more from the understanding of our shared and relatable existence. Not why we are here, but rather a collective effort to help and to understand while we are here.

It doesn’t make sense to worry about things which we cannot control, things we cannot see. It makes much more sense to care for those that we can, those we are able to touch; each other, our world, ourselves.

This place is empty though, and at moments its able to make you feel the same. Again, as irrational as this sounds, I can be anywhere and this feeling of empty can overcome me, in many ways even.

Empty of mind, of conversation.

Empty of feeling, of sensation.

Sometimes of the very breath which by nature fills.

Sometimes I can’t feel it and it scares me.

I sometimes feel as though there is nothing there at all. Nothing but an empty container we find ourselves roaming about within the confines of its elaborate ruse.

I’ll stop there with the existentialism. That’s too easy. Too shallow. Too predictable. I don’t want this piece to run off the rails. I want it to lead somewhere. I want it to mean something.

I read a book recently.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging‘ by Sebastian Junger.

It talks openly and bluntly about these feelings of empty, of lonely, of isolation. I’m glad I finally decided to pick up and to give it a read. It helped me understand these feelings deeper. It made me realize I’m at least not alone with them.

Read it if you’ve ever felt this way.

Read it even if you haven’t.

It might help you understand the struggles of another in this light.

It made me understand more of my own. It made me understand better those of other’s. I’ll read it again one day because I’m sure I’ll have to. I’m sure I’ll want to the same.

Anyways, there is a story shared amongst countless others within its pages that resonated with me at the time of my writing of this piece. It could have easily been another, but at that moment it was this one which really filled the gap. I won’t go into too much detail about it because I feel its words alone are enough. However, its setting is war, but its meaning translates to any degree of life you may be experiencing, at this time or at any other:

“I missed being that close to people, I missed being loved in that way,” she told me.

“In Bosnia—as it is now—we don’t trust each other anymore; we became really bad people. We didn’t learn the lesson of the war, which is how important it is to share everything you have with human beings close to you. The best way to explain it is that the war makes you an animal. We were animals. It’s insane—but that’s the basic human instinct, to help another human being who is sitting or standing or lying close to you.”

I asked Ahmetaševi? if people had ultimately been happier during the war. “We were the happiest,” Ahmetaševi? said. Then she added: “And we laughed more.”

And that’s what I am trying to get at. I’m not blaming my feelings of alone, of empty, of isolation on anyone other than myself, ourselves; your’s too. Collectively we all can do better. Collectively we all are designed to do better.

To help one another.

To talk to one another.

To listen to one another.

To acknowledge one another.

Simply, to be there for one another during our time within this labyrinth named life, because it’s really the only thing that makes any damn sense anyways. The only thing that really leads anywhere. The only thing that really means something.

What else are you going to do?

Sit and ponder the heavens, and waste every second we’re allotted, instead of embracing and engaging with the place, the moment, the people of which also we ourselves are embedded? Of which we ourselves come from? Of which we ourselves will one day soon leave?

Yeah, this place feels empty sometimes, and I do too, and I’m sure you reading this can relate, but that emptiness, it falls on myself, ourselves.

The day was hazy, but I chose to ignore that. I had felt empty, but I decided to fill that with life, which was all around. I met a stranger, who shortly thereafter became a friend, even if only for the day. We experienced the place together, and we both felt better for having done so.

Nothing More

By Justin Cude

It isn’t lonely,

for I have been there before.

Its absence,

nothing more.


Pair this short read with ‘The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone‘, brought to you by Maria Popova’s brainpickings.