The Eye of the Hurricane

Now that the kids have grown up and I have separated from my husband—and moved out as well—my loneliness has no place to hide. In this quiet little apartment, my loneliness can no longer be ignored. It can’t hide behind the busyness of taking care of a home and family.  It can’t be tucked away like it was when I was tending to my kids and getting them to their activities, or sitting next to my husband while he watches TV. Loneliness thunders in like a storm and then settles down next me. It stares at me and looks deep into my eyes. There’s no escaping it. There’s nothing to do but acknowledge it. Talk to it.

Me: Hello loneliness. How are you today?

Loneliness: Well, I’m loneliness, so…

Me: Oh. I see. Me too.

In his book, The New Earth, Eckhart Tolle writes that you can decide the kind of relationship you want to have with life, with the present moment:

Do you want to make it a friend or an enemy? One decision changes your entire reality. But that one decision you have to make again and again and again—until it becomes natural to live in such a way.

Maybe this is what is meant by “doing the work.”  To make the decision—again and again and again—to sit down with loneliness and make it my friend. In the present moment, loneliness is part of my life and I have to decide what kind of relationship I want to have with it.  It does not go away when I ignore it. It is still there lurking, swirling. So if I acknowledge it, talk to it, I see it for what it is—a feeling that happens to be here with me now. It’s not easy to do though. That’s why it’s called “doing the work” and not “doing the play.”

It’s when I acknowledge it that I notice the feeling often subsides just a bit. I also begin to see that although loneliness is with me, it is not me. It’s a visitor and the conversation creates a space between us. I believe this distinction—that I am not the feeling—is the the path to finding inner peace. In the same book, Eckhart Tolle also writes about how detaching from a feeling or event connects us to a subtle peace deep within:

Suddenly, there is space around the event. There is also space around the emotional highs and lows, even around pain. Above all there is space between your thoughts. And from that space emanates a peace that is “not of this world”… It is the peace of God.

If I create space by detaching from loneliness, I can tap into a peace that never leaves me. It’s an inner light that always glows. This peace is like the eye of a hurricane; a calm place surrounded by turbulence. In that inner space, that eye of the storm, I will find the peace of God. If I can dwell there, I can weather whatever feelings come my way.

I will admit there are many days when I do not feel like talking to my loneliness. I do not feel like making it my friend. There are days when I find myself getting blown around by its winds. Those days remind me of the Otis Reading song :Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” This loneliness won’t leave me alone.

But I am slowly finding that when I feel the storm coming, and do the work by making a conscious choice to begin the conversation and create the space, loneliness does not overwhelm me.  It takes lots of patience and practice. Dwelling in the peaceful eye is a decision I have to make again and again and again.

I want life to be my friend, not my enemy, and talking to loneliness seems like a good place to start. And now the conversation can go something like this:

Me: Hello loneliness. How are you today?

Loneliness: Well, I’m loneliness, so . . .

Me: Ah, yes. That’s right. Would you like some tea?

Karin Collin
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