I just had the strangest feeling of being alone that I can ever recall feeling. I don’t know what I want to say about it, but I feel oddly driven to talk about it — while I still feel whatever this was.
It felt like a dark black fabric was suddenly closing in on the room around me. I didn’t feel threatened. I didn’t feel any ill health. It didn’t represent death. It simply felt like a heavy curtain coming to separate me from everyone else in the world.
I suddenly felt as though I could walk out of my house and into the street — and nobody would be there. It felt as though I could walk or drive or fly all over and I would find nobody. I’ve never felt quite this way — as though I would never again see anyone and nobody would ever see me.
I’ve never felt so alone. I’ve never felt as lonely as I felt in that moment.
I recently listened to an account of a National Geographic photographer who went into a jungle near the Amazon River in South America in 1969 to find a tribe which had no contact with the outside world. Loren McIntyre had gone in as part of a group of three men — who landed their plane on a river — but one of the men became very sick, so the pilot took him back for medical help.
McIntyre stayed all by himself — and members of the tribe found him.
For the next few weeks, he couldn’t communicate with anyone and he was constantly worried about his safety. He had no way to explain to these people who he was and he could understand little of their ways. Some of them thought he was there to put a spell on them — and those people tried to kill him one night.
McIntyre had no way to let the outside world know where he was and he was living in fear of his life — all alone among these tribe members. More than once, he was sure he was about the die — alone in a pitch black jungle with no one to comfort him.
As I listened to his story, I felt a tremor of terror about what it must feel like to be away from the world you knew — among strange people who saw you as a strange invader — and think you’re about to die. I wonder if that story might have influenced my sudden experience a few minutes ago.
The feeling of the heavy black cloth surrounding me reminded me of the feelings I experienced when listening to McIntyre’s fear of dying alone in the dark of night.
In moments such as these — when I am face to face with such a feeling — I’m graphically reminded that my core fear is of being completely alone, even though I’m surrounded by people.
I’m around human beings every day. I get along fine with most of them. I like some of them. I know how to move among them in socially acceptable ways. But I’ve always felt like an alien among them. This is a an old theme for me. You’ve heard it from me before.
I fear being invisible. I fear being unheard. I fear not being understood. I fear having no one to listen and share this world with. You see, I love this world and I love my life. I want to experience every bit of life I possibly can.
I want to see everything and feel everything and touch everything around me. But I am somehow terrified of not being with someone who sees what I see and hears what I hear and experiences what I experience.
I’m terrified of being full of love and beauty and experience — and having no one to share it with. The fact that there is so much of deep wonder and awe and beauty to experience makes the fear even worse. I need someone to share this experience of life.
When I felt this blackness enveloping me a few minutes ago, it felt like a door closing — as though I was being given a horrifying preview of what life would be like if my worst fears came true.
There was a time when I thought I wanted a huge audience to listen to me, but I honestly don’t care about that anymore. Today, I understand that I really write and speak for just one soul — but capturing the love and attention of one seems to be the most difficult task I’ve ever faced.
Until I learn how to do that, I will continue to live with this haunting fear that chills my heart and leaves me alone in the cold.