the lonely generation.

Let me first start out by saying I really just speak for myself, and not the entirety of my generation, and certainly not for folks in other parts of the world.

For some reason, I’ve been wanting to talk about being alone. And I always say “being alone” rather than “being lonely”, because I feel they are two very different things.

Being lonely, to me at least, can happen regardless if you’re actually alone or not. I know people who feel lonely and have a large, supportive family and are maybe even married or have a partner to share their life with.

Being alone, well, that’s where I come in. I came across an article recently that said we, at least my generation, are going to be the loneliest generation (because of various social networking habits). Broad statements like this always rub me the wrong way, because it’s such a large generalization of a generation that is barely into their 30s. People can’t always, or if ever, control the things that happen to them in their lives.

I think often that I might have a kid by now. I might have had a lot of things by now. But I don’t, and that’s okay. Life took a sharp U-Turn a few years ago and sent me on a different direction. Part of me feels sad, not as much for me, but for the people in my life who wanted to see me have those things — maybe some family — maybe some friends. I can’t control these things, and that is something you have to understand.

What I want to say, is that I may be really difficult. Whether that is my standards, my dreams, and whatever it is I may be pursuing at the moment. Some people have an easier time in life living with other human beings, and some work better being on their own. The part of this that is difficult is merging those things at some point.

I think being with people is important. I know we joke about staying in at night instead of going out, or people telling me how much they know about being an introvert when it is all so damn complex. People don’t like feeling hurt. As I get older, I will admit it takes a lot more energy to try and try again. To connect…and to hopefully really connect with someone who happens to be going your way.

I am okay with being alone, mostly.

But, that is me.

I also feel lonely at times. Especially when you’re sick or need some squeezes. I think that’s understandable. I love seeing people together, and working out. I remember what that was like and I am hopeful to have it again one day. But you have to try things out. More often than not, it doesn’t work. You can’t lose hope in yourself or the world.

I always want to say people are stronger than they make themselves out to be, but it’s not my (or anyone else’s) job to coach you like that, because those people, in time, will probably let you down and then what?

That is what it is to be a messy human. This is your story, moving at your speed.

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So yeah, maybe I should have two kids by now.

Maybe I should be thinking of having my own business or working towards some other grand thing.

I am doing something that I love. Love that includes lots of things, though. Bits of rage and exhaustion, as well.

I have people that care about me, and loads of people that I care for, most importantly. I have a lot of reasons to wake up and try to create something that gives me, and hopefully others life.

I try to let go of my want to be understood, and focus more on understanding.

We are all different little monsters sometimes, and that’s a little scary. But deep in my belly I see a lot of love and a lot of knots that need untying.

You will feel lonely, sometimes. We are all full of cracks, you see? Because of that we get to fill up with all sorts of things.

Right now, I’m learning how to make Kombucha, and I’m running a lot more than I ever have each week. I am preparing myself for a busy Fall season, and also what that means for me,

when our seasons start to change, and we feel new life in our bellies.

 

fixin’ and floatin’

Quite often I remember the words of my friend Jen in Portland who would always tell me that time would heal.

And I also remember how much I hated that.
I didn’t want it to take time. I was in the fixin’ business.

Hurt? Broken?
Fixed.
Done.

Next!?

Love, unfortunately, has this awful way of slowing time down.
Heartbreak, too.

My sister showed me a picture recently of myself from two years ago. I was visiting them on the Alabama coast from Oregon, just having told them that I was getting a divorce. I was in the back seat with my nephew Cooper, cheesing it up for the camera phone.

My heart sank.

I was so very broken. Holding a smile so I wouldn’t completely bum out my entire family on their vacation. Well. My vacation too, I suppose.

The flight down had an empty seat next to me the whole way down. The place where she would have been. And I held it back and concentrated on being strong for everyone. Everyone but myself.

I remember thinking that if the plane crashed, I wouldn’t mind all that much.
I did not want to remember the pain anymore, or how alone I’d felt and how I knew I’d be alone for a while.

Being alone is difficult for an introvert. I need it. But I also don’t need it. Because human beings, regardless of their agenda, are worth struggling with. They’re worth getting beat up and torn apart for. Regardless of how much you’d like to guard your heart from this world, people will find their way in. They will set up camp and explore all sorts of depths with you.

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Today I feel really lucky. I’m not sure I believe in luck or being blessed or any of those terms that deem me worthy of such goodness. I believe in people being people. I believe that in our depths we are bound to one another, to be good, for the most part.

To want what’s best for our children.
To find meaning in our work, and to do a good job.
To make a decent living so that our needs are met, plus some.

To eat dinner every now and then at a table and explore a few souls.
(often times when the babies go to sleep and you can get too warm and giggly.)

Because our stories are all so complicated and jumbled. The people that have reached their arms into the pit and pulled me out — I feel eternally indebted to.

Only now, I am part wounded person and healer. This happens when you walk through the world. You are, too. It is never safe, okay? I know you’re scared of a lot of stuff, but there will be helpers. Healers. They may bring over cupcakes or a six pack of High Life. Or both.

I suppose that is what I’m feeling today. When the currents seem to be working with me — pushing me to another horizon. I soak it in when it’s good. That’s what I always tell people. To get it in you when it’s good, because it’s not always good. In fact, it’s bad. A lot. So celebrate when you can, the friendly currents. The people who help pick up the pieces and dust you off.

My Beloved.

Healers.

Friends.

Family.

Thank you.

quiet

I seek refuge in the quiet.
I know that’s not easy to do these days.
I also know that it’s a luxury.

Outside of the window, as I write, is a wind blowing through the bare branches of the Natchez Trace. I remember when I first moved home, I would sleep with this window open. In the early morning I would awake to see deer and other early morning creatures ruffling around the fallen pine straw.

I thought of it as a gift.

Lately, this has been a theme. This morning I woke up and read an article about a Native American who spoke about his ancestors and their relationship to silence and space. How before they would speak, they would be silent as if not to waste any words on another’s behalf. When there was a loss of a presence or when there was conflict, a time of silence was taken. Not because there was a loss of something to say, but as a space to honor the other person, and yourself.

They would do the same while being in the wild — though they didn’t call it wild. They called it nature. Or at least their word for it. It was a harmony of sorts. When it became too cold, they would not get angry, but adapt to nature. They understood that it was a force they couldn’t change, and decided to move forward with the season, rather than revolt and create noise.

I think it is okay to feel overwhelmed with all the noise and distraction. Sometimes I assume I live a different lifestyle where I need a quiet space to reconnect, while others can move with all the noise so much easier. I realize kids have a lot to do with this, so I speak only on my particular plain.

But it is in the quiet that the world gets softer. My world calms and I am able to connect better with you.

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I read Christopher Kimball’s piece in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated about people living off the grid and being alone. I am aware of the differences of being lonely and being alone. He spoke about being content where you are. Whether a still pond deep in a wood, or with a cutting board at your waste, diving into a recipe.

I am okay with being alone. Very seldom do I actually feel lonely. I know loneliness is our greatest poverty here. Even with all the noise and distractions, this world, especially now, can be a very lonely place.

Over the years I’ve collected and dropped things. I’ve created a tiny life and I also gave it all away. I’ve seen heaven and I’ve felt a depth of hell with the pain of losing a person. Sometimes, the quiet has been my undoing. It is, like we always say, about balance.

So in this season, I am working hard to carve out a space for myself. I feel my world moving quickly, and I want to live in the quiet, as well as the noise. But also, I want to recognize my neighbor or the person working beside me. They deserve me as my best.

While they may question my intentional need for simplicity, and my unusual quiet and gentleness — I do it for me and I do it for them.

Because this space is sacred, as are my bones that resonate in this gift of a world.

And you?

you might as well be the face of God.

sugar and dirt. (thoughts on being an old soul)

I am often accused of being an old soul.

Why? I don’t know.

I think it’s because I’m quiet and a wallflower and can hang with folks older than me.

“You’re only 27!?”

And I understand. My balding head, nodding to your adult stories, tossing in a few bits like double dutch, whenever I’m ready to make sense of it all.
Fair enough. I am an old soul. But something tells me deep down, there’s more to it.

I’ve been around other dudes in their late 20’s and I feel as though I missed some pivotal growing stage. Like maybe I just jumped over it because I didn’t feel like it would work for me.

I’m grossed out by arrogance and too much pride. (Granted, blogging is all about ‘me, me, me’, but there is something hard to swallow when I have to listen to people build themselves like a personal resume. “People tell me I’m amazing…I dunno…I’m just a guy, ya know?”)

Yes, you are just a guy.

I’m noticing this is something single dudes develop at some point when looking for a mate… (or to mate, for that matter. Whichever is more lucrative.)

Whatever. Just a stick in the mud right? I suppose old souls get tagged with that too. Grandpa. Uncle. Mr. Business. I’ve been called it all, at the expense of the other person feeling good about their stamina and/or free spirit. Or whatever I’m supposed to call it.

When deep deep down, I’m learning more and more how to be childlike. If anything, growing up in traumatic situations makes you age quicker than your friends. Like when they’re going camping for the weekend, and you are torn with which parent to spend it with or whether or not you feel safe going home. That loss of innocence is world-changing. And because it’s your world, not everyone will notice the changes you have to make to survive it all.

theatlantic.com

theatlantic.com

I learn from little ones. How they feel and how they feel misunderstood. We all keep misunderstanding each other. We all really want to understand. Some of us don’t, and I suppose that’s okay. But we are all still moving in the ways fear makes us move – when we listen to bad voices and have a hard time loving ourselves.

I mean, sheesh! I was terrible to myself last night.
I sat alone in my room, thinking how sad it was that the Panda Express I was consuming was so, so awesome in the thick of everything going down in my life. And that I was watching a sad show and it was stormy outside. I felt so rightly alone. Nothing but the sound of the dog’s breath coming from under the door. (No doubt, the string bean chicken aroma was calling his keen nose to its source…)

I ran through all these scenarios in my head of what loneliness looks like and why it was such a bad thing.

A roommate of mine saying, “I feel sad for you”, was not what I wanted to hear. But whatever. I had my chow mein. I was okay. I appreciated the sentiment, but unless I really know you, those words are a little haunting.

We are all filled with bits of wisdom. Especially the little ones who take joy in small things. How they are straight up when they feel sad or alone. How they learn what is good and bad. Such important and strong little things.

Somehow we are all taught to be quiet. To lower our voices. To speak only when it’s appropriate. Maybe I believed in that too much.
Either way, I am always humbled by the minds of our little ones, as they wander and somehow always smell like sugar and dirt.

So as I continue to think of myself as an old soul, I will embrace it like a friend.

And whatever it is people deem as being an old soul, so be it.

Just know, that I am dreaming and electricity is pulsing through my bones. I am not done. I’m not even close.

I have a ways to go before it all catches up.

Then again, in the words of my doc, “…you’re a spring chicken!”

So, you never know what could happen, really…