The Charm (Perhaps) Of Lonely Places / by Geoff Harrison

Subtract the word Perhaps and you have the title of a blog from the School Of Life.  It is argued that when we imagine a place where we are at our happiest, we often imagine being with friends or family in a cosy home, at a party, at our favourite bar or on a busy street teaming with people.

 Dunolly Plains                        Oil On Canvas                            2013

Dunolly Plains                        Oil On Canvas                            2013

But a case is made for "locations that are starkly downbeat, empty, melancholic, architecturally compromised and isolated".  It's argued we may feel a deep pull to these places, to feel far more at home there than in a busy social setting. 

"We may have an instinctive sense that we are true natives of the isolated motorway diner at 11pm. Or of the open road, under a boundless sky in which a billion stars are starting to appear." It's argued that in these places, we can recover a sense of who we are by getting in contact with the disavowed sides of our character and have internal conversations which are drowned out by the chatter of our regular lives.  But that would surely depend on the histories our "disavowed sides" contain.  Would it be better to let sleeping dogs lie?

We can make plans, deal with regrets and excitements "without any pressure to be reassuring, purposeful or just (so-called) normal."   In other words, chill out.  It's also argued that the bleakness all around is a relief from the false comforts of home.  But what if "home" turned out to be not so uncomfortable after all?  Perhaps the bleakness may lead to a reassessment of "home".

"The fellow outsiders we encounter in these lonely places seem closer to offering us the true community we crave than the friends we should supposedly rely on."  I'm not so sure of this either.  I met some pretty strange souls when I moved to North-Central Victoria a few years ago. "They seem like our true brothers and sisters...."  Well, no.  Not in my experience.

 "Then And Now"                       Oil On Canvas                                2018

"Then And Now"                       Oil On Canvas                                2018

I discovered during my self-imposed loneliness a few years ago that I was more gregarious than I thought.  And it took some difficult soul searching to discover this.  Perhaps the message being relayed by this blog is that we don't need an expensive holiday on a lush tropical island to gain the benefits of "chilling out"; any lonely, non-descript location will do.  Just don't over do it.