Thursday, April 05, 2007

Touching the Void

If you've never seen this brilliant documentary, it's worth pursuing. On the surface it's about two young British men who climbed a peak in South America in the 80's and how it all goes horribly wrong, about friendship and brutal choices and survival against all odds.

But the real story, the deeper story, is how clear it is that touch and the need for another human being's companionship is absolutely essential to us as human beings. That survival is less important even than the need not to be alone when one dies.

This documentary has always struck a chord with me, as has that horrible old study from the 60s about young chimps dieing not because they didn't have food and water but because they weren't touched. I remember its powerful impact on me when I saw it as a kid and the impact remains.

I get this on a very basic level. I always did and now that my own loneliness overwhelms me, I get in a way I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Loneliness has often lead me to less than healthy choices, allowing people in my life or hanging on to relationships that are hurtful, and I don't just mean romantically or sexually.

Generally, I don't mind being alone. I like my own company and the freedom to do what I want, when I want. I know I can survive and that knowledge is a good thing. I am busy and lead a full life in many ways.

I also have friends (thank goodness for my best friend especially!) and sons and a daughter-in-law whom I love and who love me. I say 'yes' to invitations. I pursue things that interest me. Join in social activities. Get myself out there. Do all sorts of things to connect with others. This isn't always easy, working from home and having some physical issues to deal with, but I never stop.

But it's not enough. And it's gone beyond the skin hunger I've always known. That is more easily satisfied (and I don't mean just sexually) than this profound loneliness.

I miss.....

Going away for a few days and returning and someone caring that I left or that I'm home again.

The lack of regular touch/hugs. (If you know anyone who lives alone, please make a point of touching them whenever the opportunity arises.)

A personal message on my voice mail.

A personal email from that someone special checking in on me.

Someone to wake up with, by phone or in person.

Someone to talk about my day with.

Someone who greets me with a smile, whose eyes light up when I'm there.

I've realized and am coming to accept that I may always miss these things and more and so have to figure out another way to live. Hence the need for the travel and other dreams/goals. And now a new grandbaby to look forward to.

Shaping a new life and a new way of being in the world.

Technorati Tags: Touching the Void, baby chimps, loneliness, skin hunger


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