Summary of “Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon: A Lyrical Illustrated Meditation on Loneliness, Otherness, and the Joy of Belonging Found – Brain Pickings”

“You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of people,” Olivia Laing wrote in her lyrical exploration of loneliness and the search for belonging.
Our need for belonging is indeed the warp thread of our humanity, and our locus of belonging – determined in part by our choices and in part by the cards chance has dealt us in what we were born as and where – is a pillar of our identity.
For those who have migrated far from their homeland, and especially for those of us who have migrated alone, without the built-in social support structure of a community or a family unit, this rupture of belonging can be particularly disorienting and lonesome-making.
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place,” Maya Angelou told Bill Moyers in their fantastic 1973 conversation about freedom – a freedom the conquest of which can be a whole life’s work.
Poet JonArno Lawson, author of the wondrous Sidewalk Flowers, and artist Nahid Kazemi take up these complex questions with great simplicity and thoughtful sensitivity in Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon – a spare, uncommonly poetic meditation on belonging and what it means to be oneself as both counterpoint and counterpart to otherness, as a thinking, feeling, wakeful atom of life amid the constellation of other atoms.
One day, something subtle but profound shifts in the bird – the gaze of a young girl sparks a quickening of heart, a certain opening to the possibility of belonging, a new curiosity about the nature of life – about what it means to be.
In this foreign-looking land, which Kazemi’s palm trees and Middle Eastern architecture contrast with the deciduous crowns and Western cityscapes of the melancholy world, the bird finds a homecoming among other birds – a newfound joy in being “Alone and together, over the rooftops and under the moon.”
For a grownup counterpart, revisit Alfred Kazin on loneliness and the immigrant experience and Amin Maalouf on belonging and how we inhabit our identity.

The orginal article.