Yes, I know, that’s an illogical title because lights are inanimate objects without hearts and therefore don’t have feelings. But what about the person who’s looking at them? Haven’t you ever done that, on a sombre autumn evening, like the one that’s engulfing me right here and now?
Haven’t you ever stood on a lonely hilltop and gazed down at the lights in the valley below and wished you were one of them – inanimate, heartless, dead to the world?
Or maybe you’ve stood on a lonely beach late at night, and watched the blinking of distant nebulae high above the black water, and wished you could be transported to some other planet? Anywhere else in the universe except this one?
Or maybe you’ve just stood by the window in your isolated room, so far away from home, deprived of your loved ones, and found your thoughts swept away by those harsh, distant city lights that glitter over the indifferent city that surrounds you, not giving a shit about the loneliness of your long distance state?
Okay, so I did indeed borrow that title from the famous 1960s film of a similar name. But my blog has nothing to do with long distance running. Absolutely nada. Long distance running is something to be admired in others, but not me. Way too much puff and bother for sport-lazy creatures such as myself.
But anyway. Stick to the point, as the pedants would say. (I hope they’re happy.)
There are certain long distance feats in life that most of us have to face at some time or another, whether achieved by ourselves or by circumstances imposed on us. There’s long-distance travel, long distance marriage (tried that, and it doesn’t work), long distance relationships (ditto, except the past tense should be changed to the future tense, which is even scarier), long distance job postings, long distance student placements … and … oh, right. Actually, that’s what’s on my mind this very minute. The loneliness of the long distance student.
Of course it’s no big deal for those lucky students who have been straining and tugging at the leash for years – eager to leave home, to travel, become independent, grasp at that exciting, pulsating world out there, just ready for the taking. To those lucky souls, I say Bully for you! No, mustn’t be mean. After all, it’s not their fault that they were born confident. To those lucky souls I say, Well done! Please just remember that not everyone is like you.
But what does a parent say to a grown-up child who has now flown the nest, and whose wings are beating against the cage of their new existence? A cage for which they have not yet found the key, and so cannot open the lock and fly away to join all the other fledglings who have filled the sky with full-throated ease?
God, it’s hard to be a parent. Or a child, suddenly all grown-up. Or a student living away from home for the first time. The loneliness of the long distance student. And what loneliness…
Trying to keep your head high when all about you are losing theirs … when all about you are partying, clubbing, eating in the dining hall together, sharing coffees in the communal kitchen, nipping in and out of each other’s rooms, laughing, nattering … and not having a clue, amid all that partying and laughter, that there’s someone else out there, someone who is amongst you but not with you, whose long distance lights are flickering, and spluttering, and in danger of expiring altogether, if someone doesn’t do something about it. Because the thing is, there’s a sell-by date on this kind of inner loneliness, this plummeting self-worth, this emotional and physical atrophy.
How many long distance souls are there out there? How many?
Isn’t it better not to have a soul at all? Not to have a body? Not to be trapped in any more cages?
Isn’t is better to merge yourself with those distant lights that beckon from the window in your solitary room, and ask to be switched off, please. After all, you never asked to be switched on in the first place. Whose crazy idea was that?
Rhetoric apart, if you really feel like that, then surely it’s time to seek help?