Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Feeling incomplete

Having a purpose in life (see my July 26 blog) helps overcoming the feeling of being incomplete. That feeling will not be gone but it is remote. Remote enough not to bother you on a daily basis. Not feeling a purpose in life makes the feeling of being incomplete almost tangible. It is tempting to find purpose in being complete. Yet I have never felt more alone, lonely and/or incomplete than in a relationship that didn’t work.

The feeling of being incomplete is not as easy to explain as one might expect. It’s not a full-time feeling. At least in my case. It’s mostly a part-time feeling. Again, at least in my case. I think and feel that the feeling of incompleteness relates to the lack of a certain type of human contact. It is not family or friends that bring completeness. And it sure is not a random or regular physical encounter.

Feeling complete is about sharing intimate moments together in real time/life: a bed, a kiss, a laugh, a smell, a voice, and also music. Music, including its lyrics, is able to express some of our deepest feelings. Sharing music feels like being on the same wavelength. Not sharing a similar taste for music creates an immediate distance: how could (s)he not like my music?? I still remember a night in a Belgian hotel where the owner and a few of his guests & friends exchanged their musical preferences. I still dislike Rammstein’s “Bück Dich” but remembering Luc’s joyful face still makes me smile.

More and more, we share virtual – rather than real time/life – moments as our friends live all over the country, continent or planet. I dislike long distance relationships as it only brings one of the four cornerstones for a healthy relationship, being communication. Intimacy, respect and trust are hard to build from a distance. You may feel complete for a short time (e.g., during communication) but then emptiness returns. The feeling of emptiness brings doubt. Doubt erodes hope and trust.

Feeling complete also needs to be a 2-way street to make it last. It’s not easy feeling complete while the other person feels – or acts – incomplete (e.g., online chatting). In an optimal situation these two people do not NEED to be together but WANT to be together. Needing someone arises from lacking another purpose in life and may easily lead to a feeling of desperation. Desperation does not go well with feeling complete.

Feeling incomplete is easily confused with being alone and/or loneliness. Some people have plenty of contact with family and friends, do not feel alone or lonely, and still feel incomplete. I’m alone most of the time but hardly ever feel lonely and only feel incomplete occasionally, when there’s too much time. The common denominator is that we do not have someone to share things with.

Getting adjusted to being alone is rather easy I must say. Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone while solitude expresses the glory of being alone (Paul Tillich). The feeling of incompleteness is not one that you can adjust to or alter in your mind. It’s a feeling of missing your “significant other“, whether unknown or known (e.g., after the demise of a lifelong partner).

I think and feel that there is only one way to suppress the feeling of incompleteness: a strong sense of purpose. Working overtime each evening is not equal to a strong sense of purpose. The feeling of incompleteness may even hit you harder in the face. Having a strong sense of purpose in life brings so much drive and determination that sharing that with someone else may actually feel like a waste of time. Time then becomes the constraint in life. So much to do, and so little time left. 

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” Plato


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