February 28th, 2019

zoloft sad

A chasm deep and vast

I realize that I live on the bubble of insanity. I feel the weight of human suffering, loneliness and despair on me all the time. It's not getting easier; if anything, it's always right on the edge of my skin.
-Erwin McManus

I read something recently that suggested that lonliness is an evolutionary adaptation creatures like humans who live in packs and form societies. The idea being that it's very hard for a solitary human to survive on their own. While a bear or a tiger can do very well on their romping through the forests or savannah, it's a bit harder for creatures without sheer physical attributes who rely more on knowledge, technology, and group efforts. Like most everything in evolution, it always comes down to the carrot or the stick. Either your behavior is sculpted toward certain activities that are pleasurable or you are taught to avoid those that bring pain. That's what loneliness is in the end. It's an emotional pain to keep us connected to one another. It's what keeps us from wandering off into the wilderness, setting off on our own where generations of evolution have shown that survival is much more dicey than if we stayed with the group. No doubt that those who felt a more profound sense of loneliness would be more likely to stay with others and that probably helped them to survive and pass down the trait to their offspring.

While this might have been evolutionary advantageous in general, it's clear that many of these systems can short circuit and actually cause problems. Consider physical pain which is there to let us know about damage to the body and to encourage us to avoid that sort of damage. That works all fine and dandy in most cases, and we'd all probably be in quite a bit of trouble if we lacked any ability to feel pain, but when the system breaks it can do more harm than good. If someone suffers from chronic pain for which there is no cure and no surcease, then all the pain does is bring pointless suffering.

Maybe it's all this technology. It feels like we're more connected to one another than we've ever been and yet all it seems to do is make the loneliness feel that much more stark and unbearable. Perhaps there were once social constructs and skills that every child learned to help them cope, but if so I fear it's a lesson that I failed to learn somewhere along the way. It's almost certainly too late now to figure out whether it was a quirk of genetics or environment, and in the end, what does it even matter? The cause is immaterial when you're left staring at the broken pieces in front of you with no ability to put anything back together.

Have you ever thought about what your life would be like if you could go back in time and change something pivotal? Would you even be you anymore if you did? If the you that was was changed to be smarter, or richer, or prettier, or more loved, or more accepted....the you of today would hardly be the same person. Is that simply another form of self-annihilation? Maybe it's just as well.

Which would make you feel more terrible? To know that in all the multiverses of your life, this current incarnation of you is the best that any other you has managed to achieve or that in every other reality things were better? I guess that it really doesn't matter in the end. What is, is, and it's all we'll ever know.
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