On the Sublime

Loneliness…

lonely

And the fear of it.

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This is the facet of humanity that has dictated and changed the course of individual human lives and the whole course of human history. In the Garden of Eden Myth, why did Adam eat the apple? Fear of being alone and losing his love.

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What were Alexander Graham Bell’s first words on his telephone? “Mr. Watson, come here! I want you.”

Why do we romanticize love and hold love as our highest ideal? Because Love is the antithesis to loneliness. Love means that your soul must never be alone.

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We humans live in the sublime. I define “Sublime” classically: not excellence, but the terror and recognition of our own insignificance in the face of the awe-inspiring vast and brobdingnagian universe. We feel the cold grip of our own mortality: the winds of insignificance whip at our consciousness, tattering our sanity in the biting realization that we are alone. We are born alone, and we die alone.

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We so acutely feel this pain and we run as far away as fast as we can. We stuff it down in our awareness and turn the agony into a dull throb. We stay busy, buy pets, take up hobbies, joke about awful experiences dating, or commiserate over bad online dating websites. Our holidays are the worst, because we are confronted with images of friends and families surrounding a christmas tree, or thanksgiving dinner, or on romantic dates in February. Our news feeds are congested with images of weddings, and babies, and new families growing and moving together.

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Even when you find a brief respite from the drum beat, things end, friendships decay, loved ones are snatched into the endless abyss. We commemorate graduations, and funerals, wrap parties, and weddings the same: we celebrate the times we had together, while mourning the loss of the immediacy of our close friends and new families as their life paths merrily carry them away like crisp leaves floating downstream in the gutters. All gutters lead to the dark sewers, and sewers lead to the sea.

We dance while we can, with a fervent desperation, knowing that the dance cannot help but end, and our partner will age into dust, or leave us for the next bright bobbing body.

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And so time goes on. And so we go on. We stare above into the eternal night, watching the silent flaming watchers watch us, as they stand as sentinels marking the passage of time, like a massive watch. It is a watch wound up at the dawn of time, each hand ticking away until everything dissolves into cold dissolution. Dissipation. All heat and energy expended until even the atoms and molecules no longer hold together and become a thinly eternal cloud protons and neutrons and electrons. Even they will become quarks and muons and neutrinos. And they will eventually dissolve into quanta spread so far apart and cease moving. In the end, even the fabric of the universe will be alone, without so much as a single atom fining itself bound to any other.

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We are the consciousness of the universe. That is our function in this vast body. And we are aware of our own individual insignificance. The universe is aware of its own death and demise. And it is lonely too.

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“GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he ‘s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he ‘s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.”

Robert Herrick. 1591–1674

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