I went to a play in London earlier this month partly because I decided that I wanted to be the kind of person who could say "I went to a play in London earlier this month" and there was a really easy way to make that happen. Anyway: play in London. And this is on top of a music festival in Vienna the previous month (partly because pretty much the same reason). Plus going to an unprecedented number of live shows here in town. And what I have felt at all of these shows is really, really lonely.
I've been thinking about it because on the one hand it makes no sense. I was with friends at both shows; both shows were crowded with people, it was not unfriendly, in fact in some ways I felt more unified with the audience than I often do (that is, I felt like we were enjoying the same show, for the same general reasons, which I don't always feel). And yet I just felt so lonely. I felt like I wanted to stop everything, turn to someone next to me, someone I liked, and say, "Hey, did you just see that?" and know before I even opened my mouth that they did, that they saw what I saw, and that their opinion would help inform mine. I don't mean they'd have to agree with me, but that we would have our experiences clarified and enhanced by each other's.
But the trick here would be the moment of stopping everything. Because I hate to look away from a moment that is happening to observe it, whether that means taking a picture of it or turning to talk about it or even just smile -- it feels like the moment gets changed irrevocably by the need to observe it, and the more I enjoy the moment, the less I want to turn from it... I want to be in the moment. And that means that I have to be alone in it, and so what I felt, what I've been feeling, from surrendering to being alone in intense moments (not turning away to look at my friend, not taking pictures, etc), is really lonely. And I've been thinking about how much of life is like that, the decision between living the moment and sharing the moment, and how hard it can be to do both, and how even if you do a really really good job of documenting what happened, you cannot really have someone in your experience, I mean no matter what you are alone, even if you could stop the moment you would still be alone. I would still be, I mean. I don't think it means that attempts at connection should not be made; in contrast, I think it's the most important thing to attempt. But it means I'm realizing it's even harder than I thought.