Through the lyrics of Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne tells us that “Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week.” The original implication seems to be that the loneliness is a result of heartbreak and lost love, that we are passive victims in our plight. Yet it seems to me that we have ignored a cause of loneliness more strong and more difficult to change—and one which results not from an unfortunate circumstance such as rejection, but rather from a person’s own self-actualization. In this I am referring to driven people who, along with Avenue Q’s Princeton, “gotta find my purpose”: Christians who read The Purpose-Driven Life; musicians who must practice; scholars who must read. Such individuals—perhaps they’re all introverts—find hope and renewal in the practice of their discipline, not in the shooting of the breeze. They may fail miserably, as I do, in much of the magic they attempt; but they recognize that to be an artist requires, at the start, to be a bad one, and they heed the voice in their soul which bids them create.
I am, of course, describing what I feel to be my own predicament—and, moreover, with no intention of judgment whatsoever. Let others have their clubs, their dancing, and their drinks. I will have mine too on rare occasion. But more often, much more, my psyche drips with a palpable and urgent sense of purpose. It is true that I am lonely. But I’ve sat with a wine under the neon lights before; it holds nothing for me. My soul desires, in the words of G. K. Chesterton, “expansion, a world to stretch” myself in. Yet I find myself in a world where there seem to be no others who hope to do so, or at least none who wish to do so with me. Free time is for tele, free time is for couch, free time is for cookie—so screams the world around me.
In a passage which I cannot now find, Richard Miller tells us that every day is a training day for the serious singer. There is no doubt that I err on the side of workaholism, that some of the neurosis lies with me, and that I take this advice to the extreme; science, writing, exercise, ballet, and voice every single day leaves little time for much else. I do it because I believe it to be my calling, my contribution to the world. But surely I am not the one-hundredth percentile. Surely someone else considers their leisure time an opportunity, not for inaction but rather action. Every moment is an opportunity to per-fect the pirouette, to sing the high C, to sculpt one’s mind and abilities so that, at long last, one might have some chance of expressing their heart to the world as only a human being can—creatively, passionately, with excellence. In solitary confinement, I read the wisdom of times gone by and wonder about the existence of others who share this heart.