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“Born Lonely”

April 6, 2019

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Kurt Cobain died 25 years ago this week.

It is an interesting culture that marks death of the significant as much as we do. Pop stars like John Belushi, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston have no remembered birthdays, but, like Kurt Cobain, the point of their leaving our lives by leaving theirs is memorialized and meaningful.

The few I mentioned did not die by accident. They either killed themselves or decided to engage in behavior that killed them. Had they been happy, or felt loved, they would be alive now.

Of course John Lennon, Princess Diana and JFK all died young, ended by crimes of anger or incompetence at the hands of others and their foreshortened lives are also made news in the anniversary of their passing.

But Cobain’s death seems a little different. He never put up the “Its All Good.” front. Maybe that ennui/depression was a pose, but his brutal suicide, with a baby to love him, says otherwise.

Before he created his fame, Kurt Cobain had a girlfriend, before the fully crazed Courtney Love. In one of the memorializing stories about him this week, she noted that Cobain was “born lonely”.

That hit.

Infants only have one requirement beyond nutrition and hygiene – love. You naturally love, it is natural that everyone in your proximity loves you. The unreasoned, fully offered pouring out of undeserved love for and from the innocent is the antithesis of lonely.

Clearly, while living, Kurt Cobain was lonely. He tried being loved by drugs, by fame, by his wife, by his daughter, but nothing in him or to him stopped him from ending his loneliness by ending himself.

The inadequacy of the world to give you love, or at least enough love, is a reason to do more than a baby can. Achieving things, earning things, experiencing things are almost always unnecessary except for the love they give us, and we give them.

Clearly Kurt Cobain loved his band, loved his music, but was not loved or could love enough not to feel fully, finally, lonely.

Good Friday is, perhaps, our common western culture’s oldest remembrance of death. A person of great charisma, hope, even faith beyond his own life, and the lives of those he encountered, made for fear in some. That fear, of a loss of control, breaking the strictures their culture was built upon, or whatever, forced his death in order to maintain the norm.

That death would have ended his meaning, just like Cobain’s death relegated his music to “oldies” status, nostalgia and memory.

But that death changed things for the last couple of thousand years.It is what came after Good Friday that changed that death.

All the rituals, icons, preachy weirdness that followed and overwhelmed the actual death is simply human, and not the point. Once we leave the love sponge of infancy, loneliness can crush the lonely. Loneliness can reveal God, but it also becomes despair.

I get it, for after my baby days I had a decade of simple isolation from those who are normally your intimates. Isolation is often a dull ache of compensations and sufficiency, with little joy. It births loneliness.

For me, that loneliness changed, for Kurt he had to end it, himself. Unlike his death, the death 2,000 years ago has for me life, especially in this season.

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