A Singular Pilgrimage

I’m pretty sure we live this life in the singular.  We come into it alone, we go out alone, and we live all the in-between alone.  That’s not to say we don’t have company.  Family, friends, community, humanity, it’s all there.  Around us.  With us, even.  But you do live in your own head.  Alone.  (Except for that nagging, incessant voice that won’t shut up, especially when you’re trying to fall asleep, but even that’s just you.)  And while we make this journey in the singular, we do find companions to share the trip, to walk alongside us, and there is joy and satisfaction in that.

The plurality that comes with friendship and family and marriage, is more a one-plus-one than an equals-two.  Your singularity isn’t replaced with duality.  It’s paired with another’s singleness.  Finding your partner in life, your mate, your soulmate, will not relieve you of your oneness.  You walk your journey alongside that person.  And when you’re weary, he’ll stop beside you, and allow you to rest your head on his shoulder.  And when he is injured, you carry him.  And when there is joy, you dance!  But your journey is, daily: your journey.  Yours alone.  Each day, you decide to continue in the company of your mate.  Each day, albeit with a heavy price, you have the option to remove yourself from this pairing.  That’s the nature of the singular pilgrimage.

I don’t wish to discount that which is created by our pairings.  You plus me, my friend, we are more than just a pair, walking singly side by side.  We create a friendship, a relationship, love, and a shared history. Neither of us have that alone; it exists because we share this walk together.  And this phenomenon is why we seek others.  It’s why we search for our soulmates, why we forge friendships and alliances.

But what to do when your soulmate’s journey ends before yours… You aren’t gone.  You didn’t die.  Your pilgrimage did not come to an end.  You stop.  You rest.  You feel the great loss of that shoulder upon which to rest your weary head, the place you’ve become accustomed to resting.  And the one person you’ve relied upon to shore you up during difficult times, that’s the one who is gone.  The very one you need most to help you weather the loss, that’s the one who is missing, leaving only empty space beside you.  There you are, still on your path, still with a journey ahead of you.  You’ve lost more than a traveling companion.  You’ve lost more than your place of rest.  You’ve lost that which you created together: the friendship, the love, and the shared history is now only your memories.  It only lives in that voice in your head, talking to you as you try to fall asleep each night.  So much is gone.  So much.

And yet, you journey.  This isn’t a matter of choice.  Each on a singular pilgrimage, weaving in and out of each other’s paths, forging alliances, making a difference, love and hate, comfort and fear, good and bad, weaving our tapestry of individual threads.  Yours is blue and mine is yellow, and looking back from a great enough distance, we see green.  But we know.  In our hearts, we know.  Blue.  Yellow.

Time, life, it all goes on, even while we stand still in our paths and grieve, or rest… or dance, when we can.