If You’re All By Yourself

If You’re All By Yourself May 4, 2021

I know I linked this yesterday—did I? can’t even remember—but then I went back and watched parts of it again, and then wandered around youtube finding all the clips of Celine Dion singing that song at different points in her career, including the one where she broke down after so many people in her family died.

I don’t think I have ever actually listened on purpose to Celine Dion ever in my life. This is more my speed. But I found the long explanation quite interesting, and I think I can appreciate why the genre is so popular.

Anyway, as I was watching Dion sing it again and again until everyone in my whole family asked me to please stop, it occurred to me that this is the perfect pandemic song. It’s about love, of course, and not the coronavirus, but the very simplicity of the lyrics—not elegantly simple, really, but as the guy in the video points out, raw and expressive when joined with the music—are the sort of mute, inexpressive cry that a whole generation of people are feeling as they consider the past year and the one to come. The lyrics go like this in case you have never taken the time to find them (they are a touch repetitive):

When I was young
I never needed anyone
And making love was just for fun
Those days are gone

Living alone
I think of all the friends I’ve known
But when I dial the telephone
Nobody’s home

All by myself
Don’t want to be all by myself anymore
All by myself
Don’t want to live all by myself anymore

Hard to be sure
Sometimes I feel so insecure
And love so distant and obscure
Remains the cure

All by myself
Don’t want to be all by myself anymore
All by myself
Don’t want to live all by myself anymore

When I was young
I never needed anyone
And making love was just for fun
Those days are gone

All by myself
Don’t want to be all by myself anymore
All by myself
Don’t want to live all by myself anymore

All by myself
Don’t want to be all by myself anymore
All by myself
Don’t want to live all by myself anymore

All by myself
Don’t want to be all by myself anymore

I mean, some of the time, I do long to be by myself, because I am never ever, ever by myself, not even for a few minutes. If I wander toward the car thinking that I will get out and run to the store “by myself” I find that someone has decided to come with me. If I am home for any reason, I am never “by myself.” There is a whole army of people who need my attention all the time.

But as people gradually emerge into the light—double or triple masked or whatever—I feel like we are beginning to reckon just a tiny bit with the cost of having a lot of people spending months and months by themselves with only zoom to connect them to the world. Bari Weiss is right on, I think, especially the part about letting other people be and not insisting on getting into it with every person. All the different narratives about what is safe and how to be and what to believe have seriously messed with the heads of all the people of the world. It is technically safe, I suppose, to be by yourself in your house, but nothing in this life is safe, nothing at all. Whatever choice one makes, there are consequences on the other side of it, most of them unknown until it is too late.

So anyway, as I trundle off into my chaotic day, it is a comfort to me that whether alone or piled up with people, if you have Jesus through the Holy Spirit bashing away at the grief and clutter of your mind and heart, you can know that he will “comfort all who mourn…” that he will

…grant to those who mourn in Zion…a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastation; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

Of course we can’t fix any of the problems we have in the way we know we should. And of course this school year has been a wreck. And of course too many people are lonely and have missed critical and needful preventative appointments. And of course what is happening in India is absolutely appalling. But God is still God, and if a couple of us go and beg him for help this morning, it may be that he will have some mercy. And now let me go and wipe some more dust off some surfaces.

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