By Ava Casab (‘23)
There is something about mornings when you wake up too early; the ones when you leisurely roll out of bed, take a quick shower, and make your way downstairs, when the roads outside are quiet save for the familiar whoosh noise heard as the occasional car rolls past your house. It’s like being given a moment of peace, when you can sip your tea or do a last minute review of your biology flashcards before your test in first hour; when all that exists is you and the universe, connected by a tangle of strings no one really understands, not even the so-called experts. There’s something magical about feeling like the only one awake; you can’t really describe it with words because it’s simply something you have to experience to understand. But even so, there remains an inherent sense of loneliness; not sad, moreso comforting, when you are trying to teach yourself to believe that at the moment, it‘s just you; you and the ground beneath your feet, you and the sky above your head, you and the universe above your mind. The existence and aliveness of others is unimportant to you when it feels like you are alone.
Yet even when we feel most alone we are never truly alone, because we have the ground and the sky and the universe holding us up and sometimes down, keeping us from death’s sleek scythe as best they can. These forces cannot always stop you, even if your actions bring you hatred from others, but they can certainly put up a fight. Some dare to take advantage of this fact; obsessed with the notion of not dying alone and desperate to make it reality; leaving their loyal followers to prevail in the dirt as old, decomposed people buried six feet under, and old, rotten thoughts of which it would be an arduous task to attempt to remove from all humanity. Even so, it is imperative that we know that being alone is a fact of the mind, almost like an optical illusion of the neurons, that teaches us no one else cares when, in fact, they do.
But let us continue, back to the soft wind of the early day, when each second feels like hours and each person seems like another ghost, when we’re not really paying attention to the outside world anyway, so to us it’s as good as gone. In this state of half-awakeness, slowly inching our way to full consciousness, the biology test in first hour seems lifetimes away, like you have all the time in the world to study for it. And in a sense, maybe you do, sitting there with your flashcards, the only light the occasional headlights from scarce cars on the road, reviewing vocabulary word after word, in a place, at least mentally, where nothing is really happening unless you are there. You might be there for only a minute, maybe for hours, but you’ll return to this realm eventually and get up and go take the biology test, and maybe you’ll fail, but at least you’ll have gotten it over with. And then you’ll go to the rest of your classes and do your classwork, and return home and do your homework, and then the cycle repeats itself all over again, and tomorrow you’ll return to this place in your head where you have all the time in the world, in a world that has no time.
Back to you and the universe for a moment, to that tangle of strings that connect us all to some all-powerful entity. Some consider this entity a god, others don’t, but in any case there is some checklist for consciousness that the universe has laid out, and we, as humans and animals and plants and all the other weird living things on the planet, fit all the criteria for it. Consciousness is knowing, thinking, feeling, and it is none of these things at the same time. Our brain is really the only candidate to answer the question of what is responsible for it. Some might argue that it is little more than a careful choreography of chemical communications, and maybe it seems that way, but how well can that explain our shared reality as human beings? Are we all just stuck in our own universe making up things we think could happen? What about history, then, and everything that came before us, is that all just our brains picking and choosing the correct chemical compounds to create certain chaos? Or are our realities based on the realities of individuals long gone who we now share a reality-space with the memories of? And if that’s true, then how come we don’t have those memories? What is the point of making a connection that doesn’t connect anything, two entities in space time who don’t know the other is there, stuck in a universe all their own that they will forever drift within?
Maybe that’s a bit too theoretical, but you get the point. Maybe this universe is only of your own. How are you supposed to know? Then again maybe the realness of other human beings is enough to destroy this theory from the start, at least in the eyes of the general populace. To each their own.
As it’s been said, it is easy to feel like the sole living thing on the planet when you are awake long before the general population. But perhaps there is an exception for anyone who gets used to it, whether for work or maybe for school or so that you look like a productive individual or just because you like to. Maybe the secret to not being so lonely in a lonely place is to turn loneliness into habit. If you’re always lonely, after all, who’s to say that it will really mean anything after enough time spent in the same environment? Yet humans are not built for solitude- we are social creatures, and so this idea that loneliness can fade entirely doesn’t hold in reality. There will always be some sort of nagging feeling in the back of your head, telling you to speak to others, even if you think you hate it, because we, as homo sapiens sapiens, were always more likely to survive in groups rather than alone back when we first evolved and started to change the world around us. We didn’t form cities for nothing, friendship was created on purpose, and love was and still is the matriarch of our early existence as a species- we grew to love each other in relationships, and love our cities for their safety, and love our kings for their divine right to rule, and love the planet for how it brings us together to our final destination, death.
And as we wander closer and closer to an unavoidable fate, for now, that is, our love for life only grows.
Describing the early morning, the physical aspects, is easy. Describing the feeling is not. Like chocolate, it is something that you have to experience to fully enjoy. Not to say you should skimp on sleep- rest early, wake early. Try it, even just once, and then you’ll understand what it means to feel alone yet accompanied at the same time, on a morning when you wake up too early in the eyes of the uninitiated.