Most people are somewhat social, enjoying the company of others and engaging in a wide variety of activities.
They go to dinner, travel, attend movies or artistic events and visit the homes of friends. Some are into sports, some are into church and family, some are into school functions. Some are into all of these things and more; a goodly percentage of their days and nights are spent in the company of other humans.
I fully realize that such a way of life is normal. I also accepted, long ago, that my life is the antithesis of such an existence. I spend the bulk of my allotted time on this planet by myself, sharing it almost entirely with dogs. I’m not a people person in the least, and quit trying to half-heartedly pretend that I was a couple of decades back. I do have a few very close friends with whom I speak frequently, and one extraordinary friend with whom I speak pretty much daily. All of them are hundreds (and usually 1,000 or more) miles distant.
I’m thinking about this because a friend of mine from the old days, one of the folks with whom I talk every few months, asked me a question. “So . . . you could go days without seeing people?” he asked.
“Days?” I answered. “Try weeks . . . maybe months. Perhaps years."
I guess that’s unusual, and like I said, I grok that most folks are completely boggled by such a response. While I can understand the need of others to be around others, to be doing and going, the world has a very difficult time wrapping its collective mind around the ways of those few of us who prefer solitude.
I explained it to my friend, and this is the best explanation I’ve ever come up with. Thinking back on my life there’s one feeling that I’ve never experienced. It is utterly foreign to me.
I’ve never been lonely. Not once. The idea is alien to me. I’ve been bored . . . many times . . . but lonely? Again, I don’t even know what that means.
I could honestly stay on my own property – petting dogs, building/playing guitars, just sitting, thinking, reading, creating, watching a bad movie or fiddling with the countless hobbies I’ve picked up over the years – and not feel I was cheating myself out of anything. Without question I would really miss my faraway friends if they weren't there; it would be as if the best part of me had withered on the vine. But, that's not loneliness. That would fall into the extreme sadness, loss and grief category.
I’ve also liked some of my myriad homes better than others; some places I’ve lived were so gorgeous I actually hated leaving them for even a grocery trip. But, no matter the locale, I still prefer my own company - that of my pups and my very small group of friends - to society at large.
The only thing that strikes me as odd about this – or maybe it's just contradictory – is that I don’t dislike people. Drop me in a group and I’ll generally talk and laugh and make conversation. Simply, I prefer living in my own head. That's where I find a sense of peace . . . and peace is hard to come by.
It took me a long time to reach the point where I didn’t give a damn that other people find my behavior a little quirky and inappropriate. It used to bug me, the social stigma accompanying the reality that I didn’t have the urge to go out and make merry, to be surrounded by a host of hail fellows well met. Luckily, I figured out one of the biggest secrets to contentment (and I think there are are gazillions more I've yet to discover) many moons ago.