Marina Keegan. Photo from the book The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan. Ms. Keegan died in a car crash just five days after graduating magna cum laude from Yale.
Marina Keegan–a 22 year old–wrote this a few weeks before her college commencement at Yale:
We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we See the complete Opposite of Loneliness essaydid, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.
It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.
We all, I think, have had similar experiences to hers. The camaraderie of a college experience, of being in the military, of a close-knit group in high school. The feeling that there are people that are in this together. Those are very intense experiences. Imagine what life would be like if we experienced that, every moment of our day. With everyone we meet or see we would have this intense feeling that we are in this together, we are on the same team, with everyone. even people who cut us off in traffic or have an opposing political view.
We would still have sufferings in our life. We might lose our job, have difficulties in a relationship, have sickness, maybe even chronic illness. But we would feel 100% supported and feel that the entire community has our back.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t feel this strong sense of community. Rather we feel loneliness and a sense of separation. Mother Teresa reportedly said: The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging Modern society with its emphasis on individualism seems to exasperate this problem by emphasizing the self. In contrast, in Buddhism we work at letting the self fall away and reducing the barriers between ourselves and the rest of the world. Buddhism strives for the opposite of loneliness.
The book we will start discussing next week, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach, presents methods that help us on this path. Please consider joining us for this book study.