notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Incomprehensible

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?

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48 Comments

  1. Diane

    Check out Art Escape in Southbury. Lots of classes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I ask those questions all the time.

    Like

  3. Susan

    We must be the solitary people in our families. I often thought it would be wonderful to start a .com business from home – no co-workers, no office, just me. When you are a solitary person, the WHY’s seem to pop up all the time. Not just the important WHY’s you brought up, but the stupid why’s also. I get afraid we aren’t going to see the answers in our lifetime. Every time it seems like we are making headway – and we may finally be beginning to make the ends meet – someone comes along and changes the middle!

    Like

    • Sometimes they even change the question.

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  4. I’m afraid there is no answer. Laws cannot be enacted that govern a person’s heart.

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    • No, but laws can help. For example, automobile fatalities decreased after seat belt laws were enacted.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I can totally relate to much of what you say. I love being with people, but am always looking forward to getting back to solitude! Sure enjoy your writing.

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    • I think finding the right balance for you personally is the key.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope I can afford to retire someday just to see what it would be like to have that option. I would probably be a hermit, but come out once a week just to see if anything changes.
    Continuing to let children die from largely preventable deaths is an appalling tragedy.

    Like

    • I will go for days at a time not leaving the house. But I always know when I have reached my limit…. and if I have nowhere to go, there’s always the coffee shop.

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  7. I feel that the real joy of official retirement is the time to spend in whichever way one pleases; like you sometimes I am solitary especially when working on any piece of writing but then I look forward to a weekend with friends or time with my grandchildren. The decision I did make was only to spend time with people with whom I ‘feel’ connected, whose company I enjoy and where there is true give and take, no more do I have to suffer time spent with emotional leeches. As we age we have to come to terms with the fact that our time is not infinite and we have a duty of care to ourselves to spend our days in a way which enhances life whenever possible.Having said that I just returned from a visit to the dentist, a cavity filled and a huge sense of relief that I won’t (hopefully) have to return for 6 months!

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    • so true. I remember a friend telling me after she retired that she has a lot more time, but is a lot less willing to spend it being annoyed.

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  8. I used to wonder how on earth my mother could “sit around doing nothing all day”; now that I am retired and living in the country, I totally “get” it. There is so much to see (birds, squirrels, chipmunks, the changing weather …) and so many things to think about and learn and enjoy without ever having to go anywhere or ‘do’ anything. Like you, I enjoy the solitude of being a writer and the freedom allowed by retirement to spend my time any way I want. I occasionally miss being around people (generally, and various friends specifically) but I treasure the times when I’m with friends and family much more than I used to. And all it takes is the occasional foray into the city (particularly into a Costco or Walmart) to make me appreciate the peace and solitude my home provides. I do think if we all pray (in whatever way makes sense to us) at least some of the incomprehensible things in the world can be changed; we have to truly WANT it – as a society that cares – for it to happen, though.

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    • I also really love my solitude. Now I am looking for the right balance. It reminds me of the years I spent working at a job where I went into NYC occasionally for business. I loved that day of the crazy energy of the city – but then was so glad to be home.

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  9. I love being alone. It’s one of the reasons I try to come down to the lake at least once a year, though down here are other family members, so at least a few days have to be filled with spending time with them, and truthfully I don’t mind that. But yesterday everyone went home and last night it was me and the dog and it was heavenly.

    As a writer I think you’d have to get out and converse, observe, experience. Otherwise wouldn’t your writing get stale? Even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store. There’s plenty to see. And I’d do poetry on Friday night. Just drink a beer while you’re doing it. 🙂

    Like

    • I think you might be right. Poetry and wine.

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  10. Here’s a suggestion that I think is perfect for you. Being a writer and an artist. I run a Prayer Shawl Ministry and one of my outreaches was spending Saturday morning at a nursing home . I would sit in the community room and either women would come and knit and crochet with me or just sit and watch an join in the conversation. There was a high school student that came in and would set up appointments with residents to interview them about a “This is Your Life” book. While she recorded the interview (from a pre prepared list of questions), she did a pen and ink portrait of them. In talking with her, she told me she wrote their story and put it in book form (in a binder so it could be photo copied for all family members) and the cover was their portrait. Staff at the home told me it has been great for the residents, engaged them in conversation that even the dementia patients could share and the extended families treasured their gifts. You are an awesome writer as well as a talented artist. I think you would be great at something like this and what a blessing you would be to many very lonesome folks just hungry to tell their stories. Just a thought !!!! It would get you out of your solitude and put interaction with those that need the personal interaction.

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    • That is a fascinating idea. Years ago when I was going to a very old dentist (remember Dr.Raffaniello?) he spent several hours with me talking about his childhood, and I recorded it and organized and wrote it up for him, so he could give it to his children.

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      • So you already know what this young lady was doing. She was doing it as a project for her college transcript. I was fascinated listening in on these interviews and went to a few of her “This is your Life” presentations which included the young lady presenting the book to family members but also the in-house hospice (Mercy Care) also did a film of the residents life compiled from items the family supplied. I got such a thrill and a chill every time I attended one of these events. Once again, I say you would be ideal for a project such as this. Maybe take Steffie along to help break the ice with the residents. Who wouldn’t just love spending time with your mom.

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  11. Amen to every word of this post!

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    • Thanks. I hope the children today create a better world than we have made.

      Like

  12. I used to long for alone time, loved it…now I have too much of it and have to push myself in the ways you have/are. Great post, thank you.

    Like

    • Being comfortable in your own company is a great skill.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. kathie

    Thank you for saying, so eloquently, what I’ve been thinking.

    Like

    • Thanks, Kathie. I think a change is gonna come.

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  14. Wonderful post, in every way. Here’s an encounter that shook me up a bit: every nail salon in Texas is run by Vietnamese people. While I was having a pedicure, there was an ad on the ubiquitous TV for the Ken Burns series on the Vietnam war. It got the nail tech and me talking, and he told me about his escape from Vietnam. It was utterly mesmerizing, harrowing, and unlike anything I’d ever heard related to that awful time, hearing it from a South Vietnamese man. I wanted to learn more about his life after he got to the U.S., age 17 and penniless, but next time I went in his wife did my nails. I think he felt a little exposed after telling me his story. But it just shows how wonder is everywhere if you have your ears and eyes open.

    Like

    • That is truly wonderful. And it’s a fact that you never know where you will find a great story. My old dentist spent hours a few years ago telling me about his childhood. It was a privilege to hear his story.

      Like

  15. Sarah C

    I love this post so much. There is a difference between being solitary and being lonely. I needed reminding of that. I *do* love being alone, but often get caught up in the feeling that I’m missing out on the wonderful social whirl everyone else is having. Thank you, Facebook! I am what I am, and will never be that graceful social creature I’ve always wanted to be. And that’s OK.

    Like

    • I think social media – despite its flaws – is a wonderful tool for connection.

      Like

  16. Jo

    You cracked me up w your comment about men in beige underwear. Chuckled about that all day.

    Like

    • True though, right? I mean – a man in nude underwear?????

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      • Jo

        Yes! Very true.

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  17. Yes, I am sort of retired and hear you. Yoga, and social media are a great outlet. I have ‘met’ some amazing people blogging that I am unlikely to actually meet. Thank you for mentioning the children lost here,(in Florida) the more said, the better and our own State Legislators wouldn’t listen to the survivors. The words won’t come to describe those people.
    On a lighter note, my husband, the king of tighty whities, bought some black underwear on sale – still flipping me out! At least they weren’t beige.

    Like

    • Your courageous survivors may just change the world. I hope so!

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      • Nancy. They are these kids are amazing just started a boycott Florida for spring break til guns are addressed.

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        • And did you see all the NRA “Sponsors” who are terminating their contracts? These kids are sending a message that is being received! And colleges and universities are stating in writing that no protest participation will negatively affect their admissions decisions.

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          • 👍 thrilled but also horrified at what it took to get to this point.

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          • I am from Connecticut. Newtown is 30 minutes away. I thought that those children’s lives would make a difference, and I was horrified to find that it was not so. But they were too small to speak for themselves. These Parkland kids will not be silent!

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          • Yes. I agreed with the comments made by the English about that.Appalling. I am halfway between Pulse and Parkland. The high school parents and kids are terrified. Our GOp congressman wrote an op-ed NYT in favor of banning the rifles. Astounding.

            Like

  18. Prachi Vashisht

    Love your post. Check out my blogs too maybe we can offer each other some more insight. Thanks!!

    Like

  19. Nancy, as far as being a writer and reclusive. I get it. That is so easy to do. You just want to wrap yourself up in a blanket stay in your own little house within your own little walls and leave the entire world OUTSIDE where you don’t really want to be. However, reality kicks in and you realize there are people that need you. People that you know and don’t know. You never know whose day you are going to perk up just by a glancing smile or a quick but genuine compliment. I used to be single, many, many years ago and I was perfectly happy living by myself. I tried to “hermitize” myself, but the Lord kind of whispered in my ear and let me know the world wasn’t just about “me” and what I wanted or needed. As far as the other issues, I’m in the ministry and one of our focal points is on elderly citizens and another is on the homeless. We go into many of the elderly residents to make sure they have what they need and visit with them. Many of them have been left to themselves by their children. We just got finished being monetarily drained by an elderly couple because none of their 3 sons would step up to the plate. They LITERALLY drained us of our savings and inheritance I got from my mother. We looked after them for 2 years. Finally, one of their sons came to take over, with an attitude that he was “Superman”. When we asked if we could have some reimbursement, he told us to hand over the receipts. We did that . We have seen NOTHING!! It’s okay, though, God’s got our back and He will restore us. We also have gone to other states and retrieved people who were homeless and the waiting lists were very long for them to get some kind of housing. We’ve been able to relocate them to a place where there was no waiting list and they were able to get help right away. Praise God. I am not trying to pat ourselves on the back. I just wanted to share with you that our hearts are on the same page. Our next target IS in fact to go to the next school board candidate meeting, (this is an election year) to see who has the best agenda to keep the children safe. We no longer have children in school, but we have family that does. 🙂 Be blessed.

    Like

    • When my father was in a nursing home, I saw so many lonely people. I was not able to do much, but I at least tried to say hello to people in the corridors. I told myself that perhaps it might be the only hello they received all day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I believe it. People don’t understand, they can pick up someone’s day by opening a door for them. Flashing a sincere smile and a friendly greeting. It doesn’t take much, if they would just consider others even for a mere moment. It’s nice to hear about other people being on the same page. Though you probably don’t hear it very often, on behalf of all the people you have and will reach out to, I will say, “Thank you.” Have a blessed day, Nancy. And I mean it, sincerely. God bless you.

        Like

  20. so much to love about this post~ I am still “out there” working and can easily get isolated in my office, door closed, on calls most of the day. Sometime I purposely don’t pack a lunch b/c that forces me to get out, go to the grocery store, and interact with people. But in the winter, there is a certain peace and solitude of being tucked in with the snow falling … TV off, reading and cozy. I’m not sticking my head in the sand but have turned off all the angry TV of late — to much pointing and yelling, not enough solving.

    I wish you a peaceful solution that feeds your soul!

    MJ

    Like

    • I would never want to give up my ‘alone time’ – I treasure it and I need it. But I make sure I get myself out and join humanity once in a while is good too. I remember a definition from years ago that really resonated with me: The difference between an introvert and an extrovert is how they recharge their energy – the introvert needs quiet time alone to recharge and the extrovert recharges with the help of energy from others. But it is a continuum,

      Like

  21. Well, you nailed that one, Nancy! From the title all the way to your finale. Although, I think a cat named Fido would be kind of cool…in an ironic kind of way.

    Like

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