post written by: Marc Chernoff

Where We Must Go When We Feel Lost and Alone


Lost and Alone

What She Desires Most

She notices the people sitting in a small sports bar across the street.  They’re cheering and chatting.  They look so alive.  She wants to cross the street and join these people just to connect with them – to be a part of something.  But a subtle voice that comes from within – that whispers from the open wounds in her heart – holds her back from doing so.  So she keeps walking.  Alone.

She walks to the end of the city center where she sees a dirt path that leads up a grassy hill.  The hill, she knows, overlooks a spiritual sanctuary.  But it isn’t the sanctuary she wants to visit tonight – not yet anyway.  It’s a warm, breezy Saturday night and she wants to find a place outdoors with sufficient light so she can sit and read the novel she’s grasping in her right hand.

But reading isn’t what she really wants.  Not deep down.  What she really wants is for someone – anyone at all – to tap her on the shoulder and invite her into their world.  To ask her questions and tell her stories.  To be interested.  To laugh with her.  To want her to be a part of their life.

But it isn’t even this connection with someone new that she wants most.  At least not at the deepest level.  At the deepest level, in the core of her soul, even fleeting connections with others seem to interfere with what she desires most.  Which is to know that she’s truly loved.  That she’s not alone in this world.  And that whatever she was put here to do, in time, will be done and shared with others who care.

Unsustainable

This young woman left a substantial segment of her life behind to be in this small city tonight.  A few months ago, she was engaged to a strapping young businessman, managing a fast-growing start-up company, working long, hard days and enjoying the fruits of her labor together with a deepening community of friendships in Manhattan.

In a period of just a few months, her fiancé and her split and decided that it was easiest to shutdown the company and divide the monetary remains rather than attempt co-ownership.  As they began the process of shutting down the company, she learned that most of the seemingly deep friendships she had made in Manhattan were tied directly to her old business affairs or her business-socialite of an ex-fiancé.

While this young woman didn’t consciously expect such a rapid, tragic series of events, it also wasn’t totally unexpected.  Subconsciously she knew that she had created a life for herself that was unsustainable.  It was a life revolving around her social status in which all of her relationships brought with them a mounting and revolving set of expectations.  This life left no time for spiritual growth or true love.

Yet, this young woman is drawn to spirituality and love.  She has been drawn to both all her life.  And the only thing that steered her off course into this unsustainable lifestyle was the imprudent belief that if she did certain things and acted in certain ways she would be worthy in the eyes of others.  That her social status would procure love from these people.  And that she would never be alone.

She realizes, now, how wrong she was.

The Sanctuary

The young woman walks up a steep paved road on the outskirts of the city center.  She feels the burn in her quads as she marches higher and higher.  The road is, at first, filled with quaint boutique shops and young couples and friends, but as it advances uphill they give way to small cottage homes and kids playing ball in the street.  She keeps marching higher and higher until she reaches a clearing where there is a small public park.

In this park, a group of teenagers huddle around two guitarists who are strumming and singing an acoustic melody.  “Is it a popular song?” she thinks to herself.  She isn’t sure because she hasn’t had time lately to listen to music.  She wants to join the group.  She wants to tell the guitarists that their music is incredible.  But she hesitates.  She just can’t find the courage to walk over to them.

Instead, she sits on a park bench a few hundred feet away.  The bench overlooks the cityscape below.  She stares off into the distance and up into the night sky for several minutes – thinking and breathing.  And she begins to smile, because she can see the spiritual sanctuary.  It’s dark outside, but the sanctuary shines bright.  She can see it clearly.  She can feel it’s warmth surrounding her.  And although she knows the sanctuary has existed for an eternity, her heart tells her something that keeps a smile stretched across her cheeks: “This sanctuary is all yours tonight.”

Not in the sense that she owns it.  Nor in the sense that it isn’t also a sanctuary for millions of other people around the world.  But rather in the sense that it belongs to all of us as part of our heritage, exclusively tailored for every human being and our unique needs and beliefs.  It’s a quiet refuge that, when we choose to pay attention, exists all around us and within us.  We can escape to it at any time.  It’s a place where we can dwell with the good spirits and guardian angels who love us unconditionally and guide us even when we feel lost and alone.

Especially when we feel lost and alone.

Photo by: Meg Wills

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25 Comments

  • It seems that all lot of us fall into the habit of creating a situation in life that is unsustainable. We find ourselves subconsciously yearning for acceptance and love from each other in our social lives. The only problem is that we all change too often and those who do not change with us get outcast and left in need of a sanctuary. It sounds good in the story, if only we could all locate this place in a time of need; life would be so much easier.

  • Marc - my comment is about you (your blog) and not specifically this post.

    I just came upon your site, and must say, most of the blogs I’ve read and followed add nothing to the conversation but a whole lot of noise. I don’t fault them; I’m sure they are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, but it is a frustrating slog having to trudge through all the trite insipid pablum out there in order to discover truly wonderfully original and insightful works.

    Yours is the latter, and this post is an example of what I speak of.

    I appreciate the depth and thoughtfulness that goes into all of the articles you write.

    Thank you!

  • You’re a great story teller. I could “see” it. I believe the sanctuary is actually accessible to everyone as you reveal in your post, “Fun with Just a Stick and Your Imagination.” Our inner theater is not a frivolous waste of time (although it seems so with in the Western mind), or a simply a play thing for the bored. It’s actually a bridge we cross everyday. The bridge to “what” is our choice. Too many people use it as an effective worry enhancer. However, the inner sanctuary is there for the finding.

  • Dear Angel and Marc,

    I have been receiving your wonderful inspirational RSS e-mails for some time. As a mother of two grown daughters, I have also forwarded your articles to them from time to time (usually without comment from me, as your words speak for themselves).

    I just want you to know that you are doing a wonderful and caring thing for so many who are touched by your thoughts and insights.

    Today’s truly lovely article was so the epitome of the importance of power of self and worth of life, that I finally had to write to you to thank you for all you do.

    Best wishes,

    Hillie

  • Dear Marc,

    You just wrote about me. This story is almost a true to life story about me. When I began to read it, my heart was touched because it made me realize that I am not alone in my journey. The end of the story encouraged me and gave me just a bit of hope. Thank You!

  • Awesome, awesome! I love your *stories*! They have such a way of touching the heart! I can so relate with the character here, looking for that connection, that peace, and finding sanctuary in unexpected places…
    Bernice
    http://livingthebalancedlife.com/2010/waiting-for-perfect/

  • Hi Marc,

    Really a very nice post! This is an inspiring story, many of us can relate to it. Thanks for sharing

  • This is totally my life. Thank you for shedding light on the subject and for letting me know that I am not alone.

  • Fantastic story Marc. Quite a shift of tone compared to your other entries. Stories are built to be listened and interpreted and I believe that the inner sanctuary that envelopes our world is, with no doubt, a place more and more people should learn to call up. Living lives quite superficial provide weak support when these trivial matters disappear. Knowing yourself is probably the most important of all, but our daily lives often mask that. I really enjoyed this, good work.

  • Marc,

    As a seventeen year old reading this blog, I feel extremely fortunate to have come across it at such a young age. Your life-changing advice and inspirational stories have caused a transformation in my lifestlye and overall way of thinking, and have been accounted for when making important decisions about what I want to do in the near future with regards to college, jobs, etc. Thank you very much and keep up the good work!

  • You always tell great engaging stories. How powerful and resonating these are for those who feel alone.

    It’s hard to engage others when you feel the way you’ve described the poor girl. I think starting online could be a great way to interact with others and build up the necessary confidence.

    Cheers.

  • This touched my heart.

  • Spirit stirring story Marc. It’s amazing that when we are children we can find another world, a silent and magical space, to go off into where we find calmness and safety. But, as adults, that seems silly or weird. But, you’ve just shown how sensible and inspiring that can be and how restorative and protective it can be. Bravo sir!

  • Marc, et al:

    Nicely done. I recently received your link through my brother who received it through his son of 20 years. Thus, its delivery was a very sweet cycle.

    I have just read the first story about the woman whose relationship with company man-fiance, ended. Ironic I am presently making my way through Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence,” a novel also set in the higher social circles of NYC.

    As long as the circles keep cycling, I am alive and vital. Keep on spinning your charms.

    Randall

  • Everyone, thanks so much for the kind remarks and added insight.

    At times, I think everyone one of us feels like the girl in the story - a little lost and alone. Because life is full of surprises (changes). And sooner or later it’s bound to shake us up and knock us off balance.

    It’s important to remember that we’re not alone when this happens. Like I said, we all feel like this sometimes. Maybe not at the same exact time, but we’re all still going through it together.

  • Thank you.

  • Wonderfully told story, Marc. I have found that when we learn to be who we are meant to be and not what everyone else thinks we should be then we find that sanctuary.
    Debbie

  • i really love that post Marc

  • Thank you for the post - it is exactly where I find myself at the moment but my fiance died. Your words have given me hope.

  • Thanks! I’m going crazy after having fallen in love with a girl who’s already committed to someone else.

  • Great job, keep it up Sir Marc.

  • “But it is a story worth reading. I identify a little with it, and it makes me smile and feel sad at the same time, because I understand, I feel it, but I can sometimes overcome it.”
    I had to blog about it and link it to here,
    Thank you for sharing this.
    @brandon systym: your comment hits the point so accurately.

    SL

  • This made me tear up. Thank you.

  • I read the passage What She Desires Most and realized this writer had taken everything in my heart and head and put it in words for all to read. After 2 sentences the tears flowed freely and let me know I need to find a way to turn my life around.
    It is so hard to start over when you have so many doubt about yourself after truly believing there was nothing really wrong with you and having the one person that helped you to believe in yourself, turn and destroy your trust and beliefs.
    Logically a person can know what the problem is and what needs to be done to make those changes but, emotionally and personally, it is so much more difficult. There is a vacuum that seems to suck your will power and desires from you and pushes you deeper into your failures, giving you a suffocating feeling that makes even getting off the couch seem like there is no point. The pain of loss, failure, doubt and loneliness drains you of you energy and determination. Your self confidence is shot and building it back up is not something easily achieved. Self talk stops working and nothing good seems to be a part of your vision of your future.
    I know, “suck it up and get on with things”. That is what you tell yourself and the people in your life either think it or say it too. Even the idea of it can leave you feeling sick, lost and lonely. Mostly because those who believe you should and can do this, have never really been in the deep hole you find yourself. All of this keeps you from being able to improve your physical and mental being. The will to have a new and different life is always there but seem so unattainable.
    Please realize the desperation we feel to ‘get better’ sometimes just drives us into a deeper hole because of the magnitude of the chore ahead of us. We just don’t see an outcome that will put us where we feel we need to be to be able to avoid the edge of this giant pit we have found ourselves, no matter how much we want and need to be so far from that life.
    One of the first things you are asked when you go for counselling to help yourself is, ‘ Are you a danger to yourself or anyone else?’. Speaking for myself, I know I will never, ever allow myself to enter that dark place. Having said that, the dark place I find myself seems to feel just as dark and probably just as painful.
    The one bright place in my world is when I find someone who NEEDS me or someone I can help. It makes me feel useful and as though there is a reason for me to be here.
    Anyone who finds themselves in this place, know you are not alone. Some of us just want everyone to be in their own ‘dream’ place in this world with all the joy we all really deserve. These are MY desires for us all. Go out and conquer the world doing what makes you happy.

  • To Kim: She Who Has Posted Before Me, your comment expressed, word for word, EXACTLY the same thoughts and feelings that are my current experience, which, up until now, has kept me very isolated, bewildered, and alone in my attempt to make sense of the surreal shock & horror of being suddenly & brutally gutted and left to cope with overwhelming grief, fear, & suffocating lonliness while desperately pleading to Whoever to help me see ANY reason to even find the strength just to live, let alone to move forward….and all that other stuff you described perfectly. I never imagined that it would be a stranger on the Internet who’d understand exactly what I couldn’t get anyone in my life to understand enough to at least have the compassion to not alienate me when I need them the most.

    But, this post… or my interpretation of this post, couldn’t have been found at a more appropriate time for me than right now (& it may have even saved my aXX). When hit, the overwhelming pain blinds us to anything else. If all you can see is pain, you think you’re alone, but the message I get from this post, is that we AREN’T alone. We are actually “all in this together” and it is those terribly lonely experiences that change our perception, enabling us to see that we are far from alone, as we suddenly notice the interconnectedness of EVERYTHING. There is no MY pain, it’s a pain shared by everyone at some point and at some time in life. It was suffered before I was born & it will continue to be suffered after I’m gone . Independent of the bonds of time, it just is. Similarly, the essence of who we are is independent of the bonds of a physical body. When freed of those bonds, do you know what we are? ONE.
    Altogether we are one and never alone.
    That’s pretty cool ;)
    And comforting.

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