Sunday, August 12, 2018

In Hiding

"With birds I'll share this lonely view."

Am I really lonely? It's a question I ask myself all the time.

As far back as I can remember I've never really had a problem making friends. Growing up as the fat kid you've gotta sink or swim, so to speak. I had to develop a personality and learn the fine art of wit and comedic timing, or else life was gonna suck. There's a surprising amount of joy that comes from making other people feel laugh and feel more relaxed just because you're there. I can get along with just about anyone, and people generally enjoy being around me. That's not in my head. Over the years I have been welcomed with open arms into many different social circles. But here I am, sitting home and listening to "Scar Tissue" by RHCP and that line about the lonely view always makes me think.

"With birds I'll share this lonely view." The image it conjures up is someone surrounded by life, but utterly alone.

Thing is, lonely is a state of mind. There's a big difference between being alone versus lonely. I'm alone all the time, but I choose to be alone whether or not I admit it. In a city of 1.5 million people it's pretty easy to walk out the door and run into folks if I choose to do so. I enjoy hanging out at bars sometimes to collect my thoughts and feel like I'm still part of a community, even if I'm not talking to someone. Sometimes I'll meet new people through a chance encounter and get in a really awesome conversation seemingly at random, and that's pretty exciting when it happens. It's like getting in a mini adventure you didn't see coming. And forcing myself to be social by going out alone has proven to be one hell of a character building exercise over the years.

There's a lot to be said for having the luxury to be alone whenever I want. Don't feel like talking to anyone today? No problem. I've got no roommates and can make the day free to do whatever the hell I feel like doing. I can play guitar and sing without judgment. Take an hour and create some art by drawing Zentangles. Drop 4 hours into playing a video game that I've already pumped 200 hours into over the years. Go for a walk around my local park and listen to some 90s rock. I know scores of people that have either been in a relationship or lived with roommates since their college years. And while I used to think being alone is a downer, truth is many other people would love to be able to have the kind of freedom to just be by themselves at any given moment without any social penalties.


I always have this phantom cloud following me around. As if there's something wrong with me because I'm alone. No roommates, no girlfriend, wife or kids. As if there's a social council that condemns me for being a 42 year old guy no attachments. As if I'm a lesser person because I never found another person to be my "better half."

Fuck that. I am my own better half.

 I've overcome what I consider to be some pretty serious shit to get where I am today, and from my point of view I'm doing damn well. There's always things I'd like to improve of course, but sometimes it's nice to step back to appreciate all the things I've accomplished. Even though at the time it didn't seem I was making progress towards goals. Because when you're on a really long road taking one step doesn't seem like you're actually getting anywhere.

So, lonely? Adding other people to your life doesn't fix lonely. You fix lonely by yourself. You fix it by realizing you're the only person who has the power to dictate your state of mind. It's been very hard over the years to learn this and separate the concept of being alone and being lonely. And it's constantly a learning process. I walk a fine line between deciding if all this is really true, or if I'm just buying into my own bullshit. But I think the latter is just when I don't rise above my own negativity.

I just changed the song to "In Hiding" by Pearl Jam. Time to be positive and enjoy the rest of the day. Free to do whatever I want. Because I'm not lonely, just alone today. This moment is mine to enjoy. And it's pretty liberating to be able to realize that.

"It's funny when things change so much,
It's all a state of mind."

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