Monday, January 23, 2012

Loneliness As Motivation

I completed a book called Wild Seed, by Octavia E. Butler. The book covers much ground, including slavery, racism, sexism, choice (or lack thereof), family, and different aspects of personal relationships.  The theme that caught my attention was loneliness.

In the book there are two immortal humans, while the rest of humanity is its regular dying self. A man has lived for over 3,000 years. He has done so because he has the ability to move from body to body. When he moves into a body the original owner is killed. The bodies he leaves behind fall to ground, meeting their physical end. A woman has lived for over 300 years. She has the ability to see into her own cells and manipulate them. Thus she can heal all wounds, cure all sickness, and keep her body young.

The woman is a classic “gatherer.” Even though she outlives all of her progeny she prefers to be near family, and continues to hold emotional attachments to all of her decedents.  The man has essentially lost touch with his humanity. He is as unfeeling towards humans as we are to insects. At most he sees humans as a commodity (the book makes many references to humans as livestock). If the woman were to live for thousands of years would she too lose empathy towards other humans?

The idea is put forth that the man has lost his humanity because of loneliness. He has long ago lost any emotional connection. The remedy is for him to accept the woman as some sort of companion, and to not kill her as he would eventually do. He can become human again because of emotional connection through companionship.

It got me thinking about the power of loneliness, and the motivation to avoid loneliness. How often is our behavior dictated by our loneliness? How often do we force, or settle for, a relationship in order to avoid being alone? How often do we accept undesirable situations in a relationships so as not to lose that relationship? How often do we seek out casual sex to get a temporary feeling of acceptance?

If you are unable, or unwilling, to be alone then are you leading an emotionally healthy life? Conversely, what if you have accepted being alone to the point where you are unable, or unwilling, to begin relationships? As usual, the answer lies in-between. Moderation. Balance.

No comments:

Post a Comment