The heartbreaking loneliness begins when I realize that no one can think for me; no one can live for me; no one can die for me. I can count on no one for help. The true loneliness, then, is me seeing that nothing I do is true.
When I'm about overwhelmed by all this, I take this loneliness out on the roads to find my true self, to hear my own message, to decide for myself on my life. But most of all, to know certainty, to know that there is an answer, even though I may never find it.
All this is not new. Hell may be other people, but the final enemy is within. "Will I always torment like this?" wrote Andr� Gide. "I worry from morning to night. I worry about not knowing who I will be: I do not even know who I want to be."
And hear R.D. Laing, the psychiatrist: "Whoever I am is not to be confused with the names people give me or what they call me. I am not my name. I am a territory. What they say about me is a map of me. Where O! Where is my territory?"
When you see me, that lonely figure out on the road, I am looking for my territory, my self, the person I must be. There I am no longer the observer watching myself think and talk and react. I am not the person others see and meet and even love. There I am whole; I am finally who I am.
And there I encounter myself. That encounter occurs in a deep, totally isolated place that cannot be understood or touched by others, a place that cannot be described as much as experienced. It is no longer me and the abyss; it is me and my God.
But of course this is only the outline, the game plan. In actuality, it is not that easy. Like all pilgrimages, this one is filled with stops and starts, with peaks and valleys, with pains and pleasures. There are periods of depression and elation, times when I overflow with joy at this conjunction of action and contemplation, other times when I am so tired I must stop and walk. But in that hour I know certainty. I know there is an answer to my odd union of animal and angel, my mysterious mixture of body and consciousness, my perplexing amalgam of material and spirit. And if that answer is only for the moment and only for me in my lowest common denominator, me the runner, it is still enough.
By abandoning myself to this, by, as Emerson said, unlocking my human doors, I am caught up in the life of the universe. Then, finally, loneliness is dispelled. I know I am holy, made for the greater glory of my Creator, born to do His work. Which for this day and this hour is running, a lonely figure on a lonely road.