“No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence – that which makes its truth, its meaning – its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream, alone.”
Joseph Conrad’s Marlow, a ship captain, ponders whether his story faithfully impresses his experiences upon his crew. Marlow understands, and laments above, that this is impossible. The inherent limitation of language, the subjective perception of words, and the myriad other factors that confound communication ensure it.
On the face of it, this realization is inconceivably isolating. Everything we experience is trapped within us, and no matter how deeply we long to share it with others, no matter how thoroughly we endeavor to communicate its life-sensations, no other living being can understand the truth and meaning of that experience as we do. We live, as we dream, alone.
Maybe this is why we value those who genuinely listen so highly. Despite its futility they attempt to understand the essence of our relations. Maybe this is a fundament of our humanity. We press on despite our reality, still listening and attempting to understand.