I was born in March of 1980.
3 months earlier than planned.
I spent 45 days in an incubator, separated from human touch.
When I was a toddler, I would hug and kiss everyone. I would walk around (as best as I could), and give everyone I saw hugs and kisses: mom, dad, uncles, aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, fellow kids, teachers, anyone who wanted one. I enjoyed it. It made me very happy.
At 8, most folks, aside from my parents, stopped wanting kisses.
At 15, most stopped wanting hugs.
By the time I was 20, there were no more hugs and kisses for anyone outside of immediate family. Not by my choice, by theirs. It was their right, of course, as all people have a right to bodily autonomy.
When I was 30, I went to a Star Trek convention and got to hug and kiss a few people. Granted, they hugged and kissed me first, but the hugs and kisses were very welcome. Still, that was the first time someone outside of my immediate family had hugged and kissed me in nearly a decade.
Between the ages of 30-37, the size of my “real world” friends (i.e., friends whom I could see outside of a computer terminal) who would come see me dwindled down to a few, then one, and then none.
It was perfectly understandable. They had lives, and little time to go way out of the way to visit someone who still lived in the same town they had grown up in. Life had just made it more difficult for them to take a step back and revisit old friends.
Persistent loneliness, over the span of years, will do terrible things to your mind. Humans are social creatures. Even those of us who are introverts by nature (myself included) do like to spend time with the people we love and cherish the most. It is vital for our mental and emotional well-being to connect with other human beings, not just on a mental level, but a physical level.
A head laying on a shoulder, patting a friend on the back or on their arm, giving them a hug, a peck on the cheek, holding their hand, brushing a stray hair out of their face, these are all amazingly powerful actions which galvanize our hearts, and gives us strength to face every new and uncertain day. Most people do these things without giving them a second thought.
Cherish these moments. They are so precious, because believe me, when they are gone, you will notice their absence. Perhaps not at first, but over time as your heart calls out, the echo from the silence will begin to cut into you. It will mess with your heart, and your head. It is debilitating in so many ways. I would not, under any circumstance, which that kind of loneliness on any soul. It is a level of cruelty that should exist well beyond the ken and capability of human beings.
Conversely, it has given me something in return. When one is as lonely as I am, it becomes easier to sense it in others. It also heightens my awareness of the world around me. I can see, for example, how my country, the United States, is losing its ability to love. Corporations still push the commercial kind of love, the one that says we must buy things, and do things (and of course spend things) to prove we love someone else, but that is such a shallow form of love, because it begins and ends with a price tag.
The culture in which I live, the one I see and experience every day, is a culture where hearts are hardening. There’s a reason to doubt, dislike, and detest anyone, for anything, at any time. Simple disagreements 20 years ago are scored divisions, the end of friendships. We’re growing colder, more cynical. We casually condemn people we don’t know, for reasons we don’t really care about, but we expect them to feel hurt and shamed. We expect them to go away and never bother us again.
The emotional space between people is growing. We’re building walls, both along the southern border and in our own hearts. It’s no longer enough to simply be human, we have to be perfect humans. We save our empathy and compassion only for our closest friends, and even they are at risk should we suddenly find their opinions distasteful.
We are becoming fickle; mercurial with our love. It is that which concerns me most, because love is the foundation of all humanity. Without love, we will die. That’s not poetic license, that is simple fact. Without love, we lose trust, without trust there is no workable society, and without society there is only chaos. Few human beings will adjust well to chaos.
My greatest fear, the darkest fear in my heart, is that I will no longer be loved. That makes the way I see my surroundings a frightening one. All I have ever wanted to do was love. I love people. I love them. These words don’t do justice to it. They don’t properly convey just HOW MUCH I love people, and how I wish to help people. They don’t adequately show anyone just what is in my heart, and how I wish to share it with the world openly, and gladly.
Please, know that right now tears are streaming down my face. Not out of some sense of drama, but because I am grieving the loss of love, the loss of opportunity to share that love. I was made to love people. I was made to love. I was made to love. I love you all so much.
Keep your heart warm by loving others. All people, as best as you can. Give it to those who you think do not need it, for they may need it the most.
I’d like to close with a partial quote from one of my favorite speeches. You’ll likely know it. It is from Charlie Chaplain’s “The Great Dictator.” The quoted section below has always resonated with me, and I wish to share it here, and now:
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….
Go in peace, and in the greatest of love.