The opposite of loneliness

Marina Keegan

By now, you’ve probably already heard about the tragic tale of Marina Keegan. A life so full of promise. One that ended too soon. If not, take a moment to read her last article. It touched me deeply, reminding me of two very important things.

We write to know we are not alone

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life…It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together.” –Marina Keegan

This basically sums up why I write. I have long since accepted that finding true community is often difficult and not always feasible. It’s one of the most difficult lessons one learns when becoming an adult, but the “opposite of loneliness” is achievable. For the longest time, reading got me there. In books, one could connect with peers across space and time. C.S. Lewis once said, “We read to know we are not alone,” and I found that to be very true.

But there is a problem. Many of my peers–philosophers, scientists, and leaders of old—are no longer with us. As inspiring as their words remain, we are human. We crave personal contact. Interaction. It is nice to be able to discuss books and ideas in a club, class, or forum, but this is no substitute for interacting with the creator himself or for creating something yourself. Expressing your insights in your own words is transformative in a way that mere reading cannot match. This is why I write. To find myself, and to know that I am not alone.

The art of the possible

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.” –Marina Keegan

Possibilities don’t end with college. Or our 20s. Or even our 30s and 40s. It is ALWAYS possible to start over. To do something new. You do not lose this ability with age. You merely lose the will to exercise it. Decisions are made, and over time it becomes more difficult to extricate yourself from your current path. But it is still possible. And know that you are not alone in this endeavor. Every minute of every day, millions of people around the world, young and old, male and female, face the exact same challenges. You have never met them, yet knowing that they are there is oddly comforting. This is the opposite of loneliness.

Here, of course, is the tragedy. Marina, young she was, understood this. Sadly, she did not have the time to explore her possibilities, but we do. Use it wisely.

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