Monday, September 19, 2005

Solitude

When it comes to self-knowledge, few are the times when one has the insight of a new discovery, fewer the ones when you can recognize this insight, and almost none when you have the strength to accept it.

I’ve always toyed with the idea of being some kind of solitary person. Although my past history and youth events seemingly indicate otherwise, I thought it fit well my artistic temperament, it seemed quite romantic and mysterious and not too unpleasant since I was never a real outsider. That safety net, that assuredness of established friends allowed me to enjoy my proclaimed alienist behavior.

We all want to be different in one way or another, somewhat special. We all search for the asserted ness of individuality to feed our egocentric instinct. The difference resides in the way we choose to find it.

One day, I left my country and imposed upon myself an exile; more mental than physical, without really knowing the consequences of this act. And bit by bit what had started as a game became a ghost that would haunt my soul until this day.

Loneliness and solitude went from being sporadically guest of my house to making camp in my life and since then - they have become my companions. I learned to disguise them under my prompt smile, and the easiness of my manners when I mingle in group events, whether a birthday, baptism, work-lunch or family meeting, embarrassed by their blunt and crude presence not quite socially accepted.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am lucky to have a beautiful wife I can call my friend and two gorgeous kids that fill my days, but I’ve never been able to shake the feeling of alienation, of being an eternal foreigner in a far away land.

These certainties became unbearable at those moments when walking on the street I look at people and feel how little I have in common with the rest of the world.
Until now I thought the cause of these, to be that I am living in a foreign country, with a different culture and uncommon historical past. These thoughts are meant to happen yet more often when looking at my kids and seeing there is not only a cultural gap but a generational one (for that I am scared and afraid it won’t help to mitigate the differences that are bound to exist between us as they grow to become teenagers).

I see other people with similar living circumstances to mine. Immigrants, travelers that have made what it seems to me a fulfilled life in this country. They found friends, discover new hobbies and expand their horizons. I look at them with good envy amazed at how much I’ve missed and scared of how deep I’ve fallen inside the hole. But not self-pity on these assessments just a big regret for how far I’ve dragged my family into my own loneliness.

I can’t avoid thinking about my grandfather. He was an estranged man I barely knew. A solitary one for what I heard in some sort conversations here and there. A man who died as he lived, lonely and quiet on his bed while the rest of the family kept living in other rooms of the house without noticing the life escaping as a silent sight through his mouth.

His enigma, a secret never to be known, may have been a sign of a heritage solitude that will be pass from generations to come. A predisposition to live in a world apart where not even the closest to you are allowed to trespass.

So I got to discover that what I thought to be a fashionable statement of unruly artistic character it was indeed a truth in myself, and the mask I thought wearing as a disguise has proven to be more real than my face.

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