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An article in the New York times chronicled what happened after a man was found dead in his apartment, days after he died. Thousands of people die alone. There is a whole industry alive to make certain you are officially dead and your possessions will go to the rightful heirs. The investigator stated that his job of finding out about the people who die alone, had changed him. He now made sure he had many, many friends who would find out within 24 hours that he had passed. Interesting concept to make friends so that they will know when you die.
There is a distaste in our society about being alone. A life alone is somehow an empty life. We are expected to search for connection. Connection is what is supposed to make us happy, give us a “full” life. The truth is that connections often make us unhappy. We adjust, make compromises, listen, talk, fight, feel slighted, accept, feel heard, loved, and experience a myriad of feelings that make up the “relationship”.
“We are all connected”, some say, part of a larger community. You can be as involved as you choose, you can write letters to the editor, write your thoughts into a blog as I am doing right now. You can be a volunteer and help out. You can do work that serves the larger community. Sometimes you will get a response and a momentary experience of what, yes what? Belonging? Being seen? Having a face among the large faceless masses?
These days we can connect with others through our smart devices, face time, Facebook and Skype. Are our lives more full, now that we have so many communication devices that connect us with family and friends, bring us the latest news, connect us with what is happening in the world? Before all these devices we had to rely on people around us to keep us connected within the community. I can tell you about the cool breeze coming over the marsh on my morning walk, I can tell you about the dog-doo I have to jump around, because people aren’t picking up, maybe I can tell you about an acquaintance who lost his job, but the extent of exciting news I can convey is limited. The world news and social media trump my news any time. Does it make us feel connected?
The man who died alone in New York was in his late seventies, a hoarder, who weighed over 300 lbs. No family, no friends he was in touch with. Apparently he filled the emptiness of his life with stuff and food. Was his life any more empty than the people who fill their emptiness with people?
I am waiting for a grandson to be born. If all goes well, he will come into the world, latch on to his mother and bliss out on her milk. His birth will be the end of a complete union, and the beginning of a life of intermittent unions, until death separates him for good.
I am getting closer to that end station and I am enjoying longer and longer periods of alone time. On my recent travels, I have spent time among family. Family I belong to, am loved by. In the family, I have a function, I am needed in some small way, but if I wasn’t there, all would be well also. I am not indispensable. My time alone is full. I create, I work on the daily tasks, I enjoy nature. When I am alone, I can hear the heartthrob of the universe better, I sense the ebb and flow of the seasons, I see the expanse of stars and know that I am a pinpoint in a big, empty universe. Knowing this relieves me of needing people to affirm my existence.
When I am alone I feel the space around me, I become bigger than myself.
I experience life as full - full of emptiness.
“The test of one’s decency is how much of a fight one can put up after one has stopped caring.”, Willa Cather
In the wake of another shooting, I have been feeling incompetent. My voice dies out in the bigness of this world. It doesn’t matter if I care, greater forces are at work. I have spent my whole life protesting, taking away the aggressive toys, and replacing the toys with tools that can build something good. I have been telling the ones who are angry that aggression doesn’t solve anything. They have looked at me, agreed with me so I would sign off on their release to freedom. Once out in the community they turn around and buy another gun.
I can’t teach them. I am an older women, easy to ignore and forget, easy to run over. My power was bought, my power is of the mind, I am educated, privileged. They don’t want to sit down and learn, study, compare. They want instant gratification. They want the surge that stills the emotion boiling in the brain. They want the moment of satisfaction when the perceived enemy lies still, gives in, lifts them out of the struggle. Wouldn’t you?
It’s humanity’s nemesis, the wild one inside the human, a force so powerful that it takes many barriers, many restraints, held by others, or built by the self to keep the force from escaping. I cannot control it alone, we all need to control it together, for each other, for ourselves. It is the war we have to fight with ourselves, the war we have to fight with our nature.
I have stopped caring. It hurts too much to care. My voice isn’t heard.
Still, I will fight the fight. I will post the crazy juxtapositions in our world, I will point my finger to the nemesis. I will sign the petition that will ban the guns in our state. I will create the petition that will ban the guns in my community. As a society we create no fly zones, drug free zones, why not gun-free zones? We have to put up the barriers, make it hard to get a gun.
If you are a woman like me, remember, Women with a voice are women with a choice.
I created the above sticker. You can add your voice, by clicking on: