Shift Of Power is a new series on WANT that explores the darker parts of our emotions, empowers us to embrace them, and shows us how they can make us stronger. From loneliness and “uncoolness” to fear and jealousy, Shift Of Power shines a light on the shadows of our psyche – recognizing that these are very real parts of us and can, in fact, serve a higher purpose if we allow ourselves to feel them full-force. Part prose, part essay, part self exploration, Shift Of Power looks at the inner workings of what we truly want from a whole new angle. Because in order to want it all, you need to learn to feel it all. That, my friends, is power.
It’s 5:09. Jeremy just left and the house is silent. The turntable’s still singing (yes, we listen to records), the laundry’s still running; the armchair still caves where he sat and did work. I look at the dishwasher waiting to be loaded, the stacks of books just waiting to be read. My thoughts are wanting to be written, my ears distracted by the noise.
And the loneliness stings.
Loneliness hits at the most unexpected times – avocado shopping at the grocery store, sitting in traffic on The 5, driving your car out of your garage into the sunshine of 11am Sunday. It’s undiscerning and undiscriminating, and it certainly doesn’t wear a watch. It comes when life is quiet and you are not, or maybe when everything around you is vibrant and you tiptoe in – or when you look in your refrigerator and realize you need to buy something other than condiments and wine to have on hand at all times.
Lonely is a disconnect, a conscious choice or a unexpected wave.
Loneliness hurts in a way that’s obscure. It’s an absence, sure; but a confusion of sorts. It settles on in when you’re making other plans, or maybe when you choose that you need something more.
Lonely hits you when you look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself like you used to. You’re a real live adult, when did that happen?
Your body curves in a whole new direction; there is something different in your eyes. What is it? They’re worn and they’re wild, they’re eyes that are strained from holding themselves so wide open for so. very. long.
It’s the look of time passed and dreams in flux. It’s the realization that everything you want is not necessarily everything you need.
Soften your gaze.
Lonely is the body that’s changed shape by the day, week, year, decade, the supporting examples of this idea that even our own selves are not constant or reliable.
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Your body is reliable.
Lonely is what happens when you ache to uplift; lonely is the first guest to arrive and the lingering last guest to leave. Lonely is the self-aware, the uncharacteristically quiet, the first two layers unpeeled instead of the whole dissected onion.
Lonely is the half-budded, thirsty flower with the bright pink petals and the golden pollen, just waiting to burst, just wishing to color the landscape and feed the bees.
Lonely is the song you try to sing instead of just sing. It’s wishing to sing and not getting the chance.
It’s all of the trying and wishing, really.
Lonely is missing your friend because you both evolved in different ways and just don’t relate any more. Lonely is getting a solution instead of a shoulder. Lonely is missing the familiar reliability of life, the structure of tradition, the ease of just be-ing for a whole forever and that being enough. It’s wanting to dance.
Lonely is that necklace that you wore so well, that one that’s now neglected because you just can’t get the tangles out.
Lonely is the change that comes with time and the transience of life in general. It’s all so sad. Life sometimes makes me sad. Not because the world is a petrie dish of dysfunction, not because it is not majestic (respectively – it isn’t; it is). Because it is ephemeral, and that just makes me so sad.
And that sadness – it’s not a bad thing.
Lonely is not a relationship status; lonely isn’t crowded or alone. Lonely is the aching for wide open exchange, and no matter how many friends you have or great your love life is or how perfect your job is, lonely is the confusion that sets in when you wonder, when you hold back, or when the external becomes a guise or overcompensation.
And lonely cannot be solved by being social, by going out, by striking up conversation. Lonely is vague. Lonely is living hazily, living in parentheticals and footnotes and swift asides and question marks lined up like window decorations.
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Lonely is what happens when you question the way you give.
Lonely is the what-ifs of what’s out there…
I turn off the record and I silence the laundry. I open the windows; it’s so stuffy in here. I watch the weekenders strolling on the streets below, the regulars sitting on the sidewalk asking for spare change. A child waves. I wave back.
Target your love, focus your voice. Spread your wings and embrace the world. Just a simple moment of care and connection – a fleeting one, even. It’s all out there waiting, it’s all out there glowing.
In the depths of your loneliness lie your truest desires: to love and be loved.
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Delete your footnotes and erase your parentheses. Own the person who is so uniquely you. Let it fill your heart as you fill the hearts of others.
The opposite of loneliness is reminding someone, “You’re not alone.”
Give your love somewhere to go.
Lonely’s just love with nowhere to go.
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