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Isolation March 3, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in Thoughts on People.

Most people do not like to be alone. If they are home alone the silence descends upon them like a tangible thing — a coarse-fibered cloak that restricts movement and breathing. They fight  their way out of the silence as though doing battle with themselves in an attempt to be free from it while denying the cloak bothers them at all. They break free from the silence, leave their home and head somewhere, anywhere people can be found. Once there, they walk amongst the throng of shoppers, gawkers, theme park enthusiasts (all depending upon where the isolated person took themselves) — and they walk through the crowd silently. Listening. Feeling the comfort of others even if the ‘others’ are strangers.

Whatever it takes not to be alone.

Drivers sit in their cars with the windows rolled up tight, the air conditioner on high, and the music channel is just a softly muted murmur heard through the glass. They stare straight ahead as though there is some fascination with the skyline or the brilliant morning sun bearing down on them. They do not look to the side or smile at other drivers as they pass. In fact, the only shared communication between the people on the road is the irate bleet of a horn for some imagined infraction. The drivers…they are like a million silent bubbles traveling down the road…all together. But apart from each other. Close, but not touching.

Individuals who walk down the neighborhood side roads…intent, not intent, just walking. They wear their MP3 players with headphones snug in their ears…looking at the ground ahead to ensure they do not trip over debris, do not inadvertently walk into a sign or another pedestrian. Sometimes, when another walker crosses their path, the walker will raise their eyes from the ground to meet the gaze of the fellow traveller. Sometimes they will smile and say hello without slowing down. But mostly, they just sidestep each other, avoid eye contact, and refrain from the casual murmured greeting.

People do not like to be alone. But we isolate ourselves. Finding the inner silence even amongst a great mass of people. Finding our differences and fears and weaknesses to be too terrible a thing to offer any other human being.

So we look away, turn our gaze to the sidewalk, shove our hands in our pockets, press our lips together, and walk alone.



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