One is the Loneliest Number

Hmmm. That post title cause me to flash back to my early twenties when "Three Dog Night" sang that song. As many of you might have guessed.. I am a lover of quotes.. I am signed up for several "quote of the day" services. Today these two quotes came across my virtual desk:
"We're all in this alone." -Lily Tomlin

"Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it." -Tallulah Bankhead
These speak to me of how many of us really feel alone in the world. In a sense we are alone in our uniqueness - no two people grieve alike.. each of us experience pain differently.. the recipe that brings us joy is so diverse.. and we can sometimes feel so alone in our uniqueness wondering if anyone really "gets us".. sometimes questioning whether people really care.. often going to some pretty dark places.

I remember when my first wife Ellen died how people would ask me if I was lonely. I would usually say no.. after all I did have many people at work that I interacted with during the day and my children with me when I was not at work. What I would think though was how alone I felt.. I wondered if I would ever find another person who would "get me". Fortunately I did.

Even so I still have times when I find myself feeling alone.. even in prayer I often do not sense God's presence. It is at these times that I have learned to let myself embrace the stillness. Instead of running away from the discomfort of being alone I turn it inside out. I find that it can be a time of building a relationship with myself.. time to meditate on the things that are going on in my life and examine deeply how I feel about those things.

I think that it is so easy to be dependent on others, and even events, for our happiness.. and when those people or events are not present we can feel so alone in our sadness or our happiness. Now I am not saying that we do not need the presence of people or God - these are essential aspects to our well being. I am just saying that it can be healthy to be comfortable with being alone. Maybe it is another way to say that we must find a way to love ourselves before we are able to love others in a healthy way.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What do you do when you are alone?


  1. When I am alone I like to read or meditate. I am very comfortable being alone, even though I love my wife and miss her when she is gone. I think the thing that makes being alone precious, is she is going a few days at a time helping our various daughters and granddaughters. In this format I get precious alone time to read, think or study since I know she is coming home.

    Good post, good question. Many people are very uncomfortable with themselves and can't stand to be by themselves. That is a pity.

  2. Bob ~ I would so love to sit and visit with you and your person, but since that can't happen, I will just share like everyone else via the blog.

    I, like Gregg, am very comfortable with silence and solitude... which seems strange for a person with my personality that loves people and I'm not a very quiet person by nature....

    But I love the silence and solitude that I spend with the Lover of my Soul. I like this quote from Jack Hayford in his book The Heart of Praise. "One is a WHOLE number. Some people have found that flying 'solo" can bring the riches of solitude instead of the poverty of loneliness".

    After working two years on a study of the Spiritual Disciplines to share at a Women's
    Retreat, I discovered, the sweetest of all the Disciplines is Silence and Solitude.

    Great post Bob.

  3. Very interesting post, Bob. I've always felt alone and terrified by it. I remember as a little kid thinking that I was the only person in the world who thought the way I did. And, even when surrounded by people I always sensed the reality that we never really get to know each other. There is this separation between even people who are closest to each other.

    I eventually learned to deal with this and to even embrace it, in a sense. I'm not "lonely" anymore. But, I do feel like I have a greater sense of longing for connection than the average person- at least the average person in 21st century America.


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