I’m watching a documentary on Netflix called The Whale, about a two year old orca whale that was separated from its pod. The movie documents the impact the whale, called Luna, had on the British Columbia village .
The little whale was lonely and sought out humans for friends. It threw the village into a strange, quiet argument. Wildlife experts said leaving Luna the whale alone, not touching him, would be best. Local indigenous people said he was the spirit of a leader and needed protection. Regulars on the water said they just couldn’t leave him alone, that something about his plight triggered an intuitive response.
It was very unusual for an orca to be alone, and even more unusual for it to want so much human interaction.
That’s the thing about loneliness. It can make you do things that you may not have done previously, even make you want to befriend a completely different species. Look at how we befriend animals and call them ‘pets’. Really, they’re our friends.
At least my dogs are my friends.
Especially my Pumpkin Pie.
Her eyes are filled with pure love when she looks at me. If she’s outside and I’m near a window I will look up to see her gazing sweetly at me. She waits outside the bathroom door for me. When I am ill she keeps vigil at my side. My favorite thing to do with her is take her to an open field and allow her to run off of her leash. When she’s far, far away from me I call her. She runs so hard and so fast to get to me, and looks so joyful, it instantly lifts my spirits.
I will never be lonely as long as I have my Pumpkin with me.
Not that I think loneliness is a bad thing. I don’t. I actually believe that loneliness is important to experience in our lives. You learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about the world, and you can learn a lot about others.
I felt like that little whale not too long ago. Moving is really hard. It forces you to leave behind friends. Even with the connection that technology and the U.S. postal service allows there is still something lacking when you can’t sit face to face with a person you call friend, who knows things about you that you haven’t even said out loud.
You don’t have to move to feel lonely, either.
Maybe it’s like Luna and you just lose your pod. You don’t really know how, you just get distracted by life and when you look back around your pod has moved on.
The way I see it you’ve got two choices when you’re detached from friends:
1. Float around alone for a while and enjoy the view.
This isn’t a terrible option. Have you ever gone to the movies alone? It is awesome. You don’t have to share your overpriced popcorn, or worry that your laugh annoys your companion.
Also, when you’re alone it’s much easier to observe the world around you. You pay attention a little bit more. It’s a good time to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Take walks alone. Go on a bike ride. Sign up for a class somewhere.
It’s sounds cliche but lonely times are a good time to get to know yourself a little better. Reacquaint yourself with your likes and dislikes. Try a new hair style, get rid of clothes you hate. Practice self-care, something that women are notoriously shabby at.
2. Force yourself to contact others.
What I love about this little whale is that he didn’t try and hide his loneliness.
“Hey, I’m lonely,” his giant black flippers seemed to be saying to boaters. Why else would the boaters have stopped to chat with him?
Separation makes us vulnerable, and the trick to ending that is to make yourself…more vulnerable. You have to let another know that you’re suffering in order to end the suffering, and that’s hard.
It’s completely possible to be surrounded by people that you call friends and still feel alienated. I don’t think you have to be alone to feel lonely. You can be surrounded by people but if they don’t offer you support, if they’re not bracing during the tough times, you’re going to feel lonely.
Sometimes you have to tell your pod exactly what you need.
It may be, though, that if you’re not getting what you need from your pod seeing a counselor is a necessary step. If loneliness and anger and sadness are with you more than your friends are, getting help is a good thing.
Whatever you do, know that loneliness is a temporary state. It can be easy to begin thinking of the situation that we’re in as permanent, but that’s not the case. Life is constantly moving and things will be different, eventually. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you CAN control your attitude.
That’s a freebie, folks, a little nugget mined in my own counseling experience. It’s true, too.
Be brave, misfits!
May you never be separated from your pod.
And if you are may you always find boats filled with humans.
And may the propellers from their boats not kill you.
I’m curious, have you gone through a lonely time? What got you through it?