Now that I am finally retired from my income-producing vocation (as opposed to Writing, my income-reducing avocation) – I have found that is is really easy to slip into hermit mode.
I am solitary by nature.
Sitting at my computer most of the day, and sometimes not leaving the house for days, I have to protect myself from too much isolation. Because solitude is not the same as isolation.
And though I love blogging and tweeting and instagramming, and all the other online activities that fill my non-novel-writing hours – I know I need to get away from the screen and see people. Really see them. Look into their eyes, feel the warmth of their smiles, enjoy how their dimples crinkle when they laugh, how their eyebrows rise when they question, how they brush back their hair with a flick of the hand.
So I have been making an effort to find or create opportunities to connect.
At the beginning of the year, I started a book club, and we had our first meeting last week. I met with eight strangers who are now friends. Intelligent, thoughtful friends. What a delight. I can’t wait to meet with them again.
I’ve taken a few classes – even a makeup class at Sephora is a chance to smile at others. I go out for coffee occasionally, even though I have good coffee at home. I sit at a table and look around and make eye contact with human beings.
And today I drove a friend to her medical appointment. It’s a long ride to her doctor’s office, so having a companion passes the time for her, and gives me the pleasure of real conversation.
But I am always on the lookout for new possibilities to make human connections.
The other day I saw a posting for a poetry workshop. Just a casual get-together with other like-minded people to talk and create poetry. And I thought – that would be great for me! A different kind of writer – a chance to open my mind, and perhaps make a literary friend or two.
But then I saw the schedule. The poetry workshop group meets on Friday evenings. Well, that is just incomprehensible to me. You don’t discuss poetry on Friday nights. It just doesn’t feel right. Monday maybe. Fridays are for beer and pizza. Maybe bowling. Even a movie is stretching it for Friday.
Did you ever notice that some things just don’t feel right?
Just like Poetry on Friday night.
Or orange juice with a hot dog.
Knee socks and sandals.
Cats named Fido.
Going on a Twitter rant because you didn’t get the Yoga Instructor job.
Or even – that although women’s underwear is beautiful in a nude beige, men’s underwear in beige is just plain weird.
But now that I have been silly and trivial in these things I find incongruous, and as much as I wish that I can remain lighthearted forever –
I need to be serious.
Because I am looking for Connection, and I see how incomprehensible it is the among the billions of people on this earth, there is so much loneliness.
How in this beautiful world, and especially in this beautiful friendly country, can there be so much loneliness?
And in a land of so much wealth, how can there be homelessness?’
In a place of such abundance (and waste), how are people, especially the elderly, going hungry?
In an era of astonishing medical advancement, how can there be sick people without access to decent healthcare?
Or such a richness of natural resources that are not protected and cherished?
And – speaking of cherished resources –
How – please tell me how –
Can we let children be murdered?