Drinking Friends

“My peers, lately, have found companionship through means of intoxication–it makes them sociable. I, however, cannot force myself to use drugs to cheat on my loneliness–it is all that I have–and when the drugs and alcohol dissipate, will be all that my peers have as well.”

— Franz Kafka, diary entry

Hiding is for kittens and cockroaches. Escape is for prisoners and gases. Delirium is for the diseased and the malnourished. Unwarranted laughter is for the lunatic and the infantile.

To be sociable through glass or smoke is to distort perceptions until the world looks friendlier than it is. And this, precisely, is what Kafka means by “cheating on his loneliness.” For loneliness, as his final clause indicates, is all anyone really has. The openings through which lonely souls peer about in search of others like (or unlike) themselves are like lighthouse windows, the best views accessible only through steep climbs. Those who seek unearned respite from their natural condition are the fearful, idle, or weak.

Companionship worth having must be earned. For it may be achieved only by way of a natural loneliness that has been fully acknowledged and embraced with courage and clarity of mind.

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