I woke up at 7am in Chicago in a hotel room by myself. I have no plans and no friends around. My work here was completed last night and between 7am and my flight at 8am tomorrow morning, I have zero obligation. I packed a bag with 2 cameras, 2 lenses and clothes for a range of 50° - 80° weather (because Chicago is crazy). 8am and I was out the door. My single objective today was to photograph whatever inspired me around the city. There had been mentions of meeting with some local photographers that I connected with on Facebook but besides that, I didn't even plan a route or destination. I wanted to wander.
Chicago is architecturally beautiful. Any google search of Chicago will speak to it's incredible skyline and the beautiful building design and I, like many others before me, walked around the city with my eyes looking towards the sky. But as I photographed throughout the day and into the night, what I began to notice was not so much the beautiful buildings but the size of these giants scaled against people. Around town I would see large groups of people or individuals carrying on with their day against these massive skyscrapers. It made them look ridiculously small, and when they're alone, it makes them seem tiny and alone in a big world. Its easy to feel the weight of being alone. Especially being an outsider in a city and observe as the world moves forward with or without you. At the very same time however, I also felt the power of making my own way and answering only to myself on which way the day was going to go.
Looking back at this day, I realized that the photos and video were just a small part of my experience. The feelings of being alone is a large city of strangers can feel inspiring and motivating while at the same time feel like you're about to be swallowed into a huge void of infinite nothing. Experiencing extreme alone-ness and loneliness which feel like they should be the same thing but are complete different.
People are often given labels with words or phrases like: social, loner, introvert, extrovert, good with people, more of a lone wolf, popular, not good with people etc. I believe everyone is on some level all of those descriptions. People are different to different people. You are never the same to everyone and you are only truly yourself when you're alone.
With the non stop chatter and collaborative social network and careers that we all have now, it's harder to be alone. Curiously, the rate of reported loneliness have climbed to 1 in 5 Americans in 2017. Maybe we need a little more alone time so we don't feel so lonely.