The past weeks have been beautiful. Entering Austria, finding protection from thunderstorms in a mountain chapel, meeting pacifists and Yogis in Linz – the city of peace and recording meditations for our app. Now, I’m resting my legs since Friday in the home of my new and dear friend Simone and her parents. It’s an unusually long break and with the unusually hot weather it’s been well needed and given me some time to contemplate. Last night became a contemplation of loneliness.
To be Alone
Even though I meet so many lovely people and new friends everyday on the peacewalk, this feeling haunts me. Even though I have such understanding and supporting friends in Sweden who feel like my spiritual family, the Great Loneliness comes over me sometimes.
Yesterday I had this feeling while lying in a meadow watching the half moon in the wide blue sky.
The feeling that I’m completely alone in this universe. That even though we are 7 billion people on Earth, it’s all just me in this dream.
This aloneness can lead us to the deepest spiritual discovery: Oneness and Unity. Like the Indian sage Ramana Maharashi said: There are no others.
Even the word alone itself has a beautiful origin, it’s a merge of all and one: All-one, Alone
But… it can also be a painful heartache that follow us for years and years unnoticed. Always hiding below the surface of our consciousness.
As I was laying on the meadow the feeling was both. The borderline between separation and union. I wanted to reach out to my friends but for a long time I just couldn’t. I just lay there in the grass, feeling the loneliness of the world in my heart.
In Sweden, we have made loneliness a cultural value. Something worthy of striving for. By now I know that this cultural belief, named after a great documentary, this Swedish theory of Love has failed.
The theory is what has shaped the swedish society and so many others the past century, that nothing is more important than self reliance.
To manage your life by yourself. To become independent from your parents support. To get your own salary and your own flat, your own cave of concrete.
I experienced this theory when I moved to my own flat. I was so lonely but couldn’t feel it. All the days I filled with activities, mostly on the computer, and so much time I spent on Facebook. Many were the nights I went to clubs to meet that special one who would relieve me from my worries.
Do you think it worked?
Both my personal experience and scientific studies tells me that alcohol and drug addictions, work addiction and destructive relationships are futile attempts to shield us from this deep feeling of loneliness.
In the same way we can begin to construct artificial needs. “I have to look on my cellphone every five minutes or so. I have to click on all the notifications and reply to all the messages all the time.”
This is when social networks turn into a cold emergency aid for our heart. It feeds just enough connection to survive but not thrive. Only to come back again and again for more notifications, more confirmations that help us battle against the omnious sense that we are in fact completely alone.
I have also witnessed with great sadness the failure of the swedish theory of love with my grandmother. The past years she has lived by herself, all alone in an apartment. Sure, there are social workers that help her with her daily chores and her relatives often visit. But there are still these patches of hours after hours sitting by yourself in an empty home. Just you and the walls and the TV. And she is not alone in this loneliness.
Her whole generation is separated from our culture and preferably put into homes where paid workers take care of their basic needs. Even though the workers are so compassionate, they can’t touch the heart of each patient. To remain professional they have to put their own shield up and not get too attached to the elders (that we call patients.)
Happy Grandmother meeting my partner Ebba for the first time
There is a tremendous sadness in our culture in how we have failed to care for our elders in an honorful way.
Why do we act like this?
It starts inside. We are brainwashed with a dangerous idea: To share our difficult emotions means to fail. To be vurnerable and dependent on the support from others is to fail.
Because then we are showing weakness
Because then we are taking up time and energy of the other person
Instead we should know better and take care of our own feelings, get our shit together.
This is a trap
Since when did it become a failure to be human?
To feel and to seek for help and support when the feelings overwhelm us?
Since when did it become a failure to invite others to our open and shy heart?
What could they possibly do with their time and energy that would be more meaningful than to listen to you with compassion and kindness?
There are so many jobs today that burn though the health of the workers and fuels the pollution and destruction of the biosphere. What if we could slow down the rat race? And use our time to listen to our elders? To share our loneliness?
When I was lying in the field yesterday I began thinking thoughts like “I should know better, I know I’m never alone so why do I feel like this? I should just let it pass, it’s just a feeling”
These thoughts were not helping. They were just part of the shield. They held my hand back from reaching out to my friends and make that phone call.
And so I did. I stopped believing the thoughts and I did the most natural thing: called my friend and said I was feeling so lonely. My heart relaxed and softened instantly. It was so easy once it happened but so hard before I reached out.
To reach out and hear the voice of a beloved friend heals all loneliness. For me this is to reach out to God in that person. To unite again, to be all-one.
This why my faith, my religion is true friendship. Built upon trust and kinship and joy and love and all the good things. Friendship were I recognize the sacred in you.
I’m sure we would take many steps closer to world peace when we dare to share our loneliness.
Think of all the ones who hunger for power through money, money generated by wars and environmental destruction.
Imagine if they and you and me, all of us, would stop this endless race for more power, which in the end can’t protect us from the loneliness we are afraid of.
Only love can do that
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Harvest feast with Franz and Elisabett! Franz passed me by bike with his son Lukas and they invited me to their home, so kind!
View from Sternstein
Blessed with incredible support from Gannika and Amin in the Heart Garden cafe, serving me peaceful vegan and organic meals as a gift <3
Recording moments for the coming app 🙂
Jan, the soundmaster with his studio in his garden! Living with his partner in one house, his parents next doors and his grandparents next doors as well, truly an inspiration how to take care of each other in the family !
A new friend from Italy who passed me by bike in CZ on his way from Germany to Italy!
The awesome yoga teacher Indra and his friend Lisa after the peace ceremony in Agama yoga Linz
Crossing the Danube by ferry
“How to make a Swede happy”
I met four French adventures paddling the Danube! Best wishes for their beautiful journey which we will follow by foot 🙂
Dear Simone <3
Former Guerilla fighters in Colombia that no longer have to be alone with their guns in the jungle. Finally they can return to their families and begin a new life.