I’ve been trying not to write this post for a while, but I just keep writing it, so here it is.
This is quite a lonely time for me, but the problem is not the time I spend alone. Rather, the time I feel alone surrounded by others, is the loneliest. More or less every week, lately, I have come up short in my people skills, disappointing people who let me know with unexpected vehemence, or observing from the periphery as others enjoy a level of easy, casual connection which both stuns and excludes me – connections which I seem to break and ruin by my very effort to participate. I try to be a grown-up about it, but I am only human; I can’t help wondering where my blind spot is or if I have a kick-me sign taped to my back.
These concerns have been my companions as long as I can remember. (The story of me getting expelled from pre-school is true; too unruly even at 3.) It’s strange. I’m a pretty sensitive soul, much concerned with demonstrating kindness and alertness towards the feelings of others; somehow this trait has made me harder to be around rather than the life of the party. Maybe misinterpreted by some, maybe unwelcome by others – certainly I am the last person to ask what accounts for the dynamic. All I know is, just like lady cramps, it is not all in my head.
Even if I could, I don’t think I would “un-be” whatever it is that causes the grief; but I’ve lived a pretty long time without much of a survival strategy for coping with the repercussions. That gift has finally come in to my life through the lens, some thing I can do each day and see a mark, a change, a reality which needed me to be there to occur. I fully accept Steve Pressfield’s stipulation that the fruits of our labor are not ours, that credit for our work goes to the Muse. But I think it is a joint custody; she shares her pleasure at our willingness to open the door, and to listen when she whispers her strange stories and urgent secrets in our ears.
And so being actually alone becomes being present. And being present becomes filled with roses and light for a few minutes before sunset, beside the window in my room, where I can see and know whatever work today was meant for.