• R. J. Kinnarney

Desert Places

Thoughts on the subject of loneliness have been going around in my head for some time and, this week, they started to really crystallise into something I wanted to get down in words.

This is not so much an exploration of where loneliness comes from but more what it is to be lonely.


So, what is loneliness?



Loneliness is:

2:50am - you have a sick child or animal. It's just you and them and the darkness. And the worry.


Loneliness is:

Always being the person to make the telephone call, to arrange the date.


Loneliness is:

You have...NO new messages.


Loneliness is:

Lying in a bed next to someone and having no one in the world to talk to.


Loneliness is:

Living with someone who is on self-destruct and there is not a thing in the world you can do about it.


Loneliness is:

Feeling exhausted but not being able to talk about it because, you know, you made your life choices, so......


Loneliness is:

Always being the joker.


Loneliness is:

Living somewhere where you feel like a fish out of water, where you're not with your tribe.


Loneliness is:

Being publicly attacked but not being able to retaliate because of the position you hold.


Loneliness is:

Your best friends living miles away.


Loneliness is:

More often than not, experiencing the joyous moments in life on your own.


Loneliness is:

'I'm going to let you go now'.


Loneliness is:

A new restaurant opening but having no one to try it with.


Loneliness is:

Always having to buy your own milk.


Loneliness is:

Hearing from people only if they want something from you.


Loneliness is:

Driving yourself to and from the airport.


Loneliness is:

Having no one with whom to discuss your dreadful taste in TV programmes.


Loneliness is:

Never having a plus one.


Loneliness is:

A room full of people enjoying themselves, while you sit at the side and observe.


"They cannot scare me with their empty spaces Between stars—on stars where no human race is. I have it in me so much nearer home To scare myself with my own desert places."


Robert Frost - Desert Places



This is, by no stretch of the imagination, an exhaustive list. Loneliness is so many things to so many people and most folk will have experienced it at one time or another.

It's not something to run away from. It's not something necessarily to be scared of. Learning to be o.k. with loneliness can be a great moment of growth.


BUT, loneliness is something to be aware of in yourself and in your friends.


So, you have a friend who appears absolutely fine, whose social media feed is full of laughter, who has the 'perfect' family, who protests very loudly that they don't need other people, who is constantly filling every moment of every day. Check in with them. Send them a little message. If you see a book you know they'd love, send it to them. If you see an image that reminds you of them, send it to them. If you hear a joke you know they'd love, send it to them. If you have next to nothing to say, call them.


You just don't know when those little connections are going to matter. Sometimes they will just say, 'hey, how are you doing?'. Sometimes they will say, 'I am here for you. Really here for you'.


We all need that from time to time because we all have our Desert Places and sometimes they scare us.






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© 2019 R. J. Kinnarney.