Those 3 Men and Me..

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I could be in a room full of people around a table eating dinner, in a room watching a match, in a flea market figuring out the next stall we move to, in a home with amazing room mates, in a conference room right in between a defining meeting..and the feeling quite possibly is the same. No circumstance or set of them or people and how I am related to them changes that feeling. It’s not a constant, yet is consistent and real. Begs many a question and maybe there are some answers or maybe i’m on the way to figuring them out. Let’s begin somewhere…

Al Worden, was a part of the Apollo 15 mission as a command module pilot. He wasn’t the guy who got to step on the moon, he was the one who had to command the ship while the other two astronauts in his team went on to the moon to collect and document data on the moon. He would stay on the ship and photograph and observe the moon from a distance. What he did was as significant, maybe not as sexy, but data he collected is still being studied in labs across the world. He also spent 3 days alone on the ship and in essence became the loneliest man ever on Earth for that brief period and since. But when you are alone, it is very different from being lonely, and working 20 hours a day kept Al stubbornly occupied and he enjoyed the solitude which he was served in the most complete fashion with him being a quarter of a million miles away from Earth and 3600 kms away from the closest humans. Loneliness was a companion and an able one for him, for it made him aware and gave him solace in what were a tough couple of days of extensive work and very little sleep. Loneliness was an instrument for his existence, and a nifty one at that…

When Rudolf Hess, the third in command at the Nazi Party decided to fly a solo mission to Scotland to broker peace, little did he know that the people he had left behind, he would never see again. Upon being captured and being offered prison instead of peace, Hess began a chapter close to sixty years in the making which involved imprisonment at Spandau prison in Berlin where in the last couple of decades he was the only prisoner. He decided his own routine every day, read books, took care of a garden and ensured that an entire prison was kept alive and funded just because of him. In their unwillingness to allow a war criminal of a war that had ended 20 years to go free, the Soviet Union and the allies had embarked on creating a story that few will know and few shall never forget. Until the day he hung himself at the age of 93, Rudolf Hess was the loneliest man in the world, with guards and the prison staff all around him, but not really there. They weren’t a part of his existence and it wasn’t an existence worth living. Yet he laboured on and built a world for himself. A world possibly riddled with so many questions of how things could have been different. Of, why and how all of it made sense.

And then there is Faustino Barrientos, the gaucho in the middle of nowhere in Chile who has been herding sheep and cows since 1965 and has refused to leave one of the most secluded parts of the world after Antarctica. He has created a small world for himself in the middle of the Patagonia which is self sufficient and occasioned by a boat that brings him supplies once in ten days. And every two years he makes a trip with cattle to sell to the closest town which allows him to maintain some semblance of a life. But ask him and he believes he is living a full life. Plenty of food, plenty to do and not much to worry about. There is no concept of time and it has to be maintained or it very quickly can be forgotten. Days have to be marked by him every morning on a calendar or else he could quite easily forget at which point in time he is. There is a sense of timelessness to his loneliness. To him, it is invigorating.

What changes people’s concept of loneliness? There is a difference in reasons in these people’s lives but everything began with conscious decisions to be a certain way. In every one of us lies a significant part of us that chooses to accept or reject the concept of people and what they bring with them. I have begun to discover that maybe in a muted acceptance of what is life, lives a sense of permanence to my understanding of it. Maybe that all these years of trying to find something special, someone life changing or just someplace permanent was pointless. After all some of my greatest hits have been alone: in a coffee shop by myself on the night of my birthday watching strangers cut a cake for their friend, a weekend spent in a movie marathon locked up in my room which allowed me to finally let go of a city, on a mountain lying in the snow for hours with a blank mind, on a terrace looking at planes landing, on my longest run ever when I realised that my voice was my greatest motivator, on planes with a headphone, at a date without anyone across the table, in a home with no power or laughter, on a bike at a traffic signal which refused to turn green in the middle of the night, at a bus stop planning my escape..and this moment, now, tapping away on my keyboard, hoping desperately to find some meaning, some path on which all this would eventually level out.

So the question you really need to present to yourself is whether you are ready to be lost in space and still confident of your significance, locked up in a prison you created only to be mired in self doubt or to allow a vast grassland to define you and your concept of freedom? Either way, your loneliness whether forced or manifested, is what makes you. I’m just going to try like hell to ensure it doesn’t break me. Let’s sharpen a few knives..



Those 3 Men and Me..

2 thoughts on “Those 3 Men and Me..

  1. The first time I read this, a little more than a month ago, it left me dazed. It got me thinking more than I’d have preferred because I was just setting off to live alone in a city that has more hillocks than people. After reading this again today, I feel strangely satisfied. And happy. Those last few lines you’ve belted out are pretty darn effective, I’ll tell you that.

    (I tried to lay off the cheese but) I’ll admit I came back to this page today because the better part of this – – reminded me of your writing. You’d do us both a favour if you wrote more. 🙂

    1. Love those lines. Beautifully written and I’m flattered to be compared. Also I’m glad my writing could be of some help for your new beginnings in hilly Europe/Mongolia 🙂 couldn’t think of anywhere else where the hillocks would be outnumbering the people.

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