The Gift of Loneliness
- Wednesday, June 21, 2006
If there's an organ in the body that causes loneliness, I'm sure it's located near the stomach. When I'm really hungry I'll eat anything—lettuce, ice, dried pasta, frozen peas. The same is true when I'm lonely. I'll look anywhere or do anything to stop the hunger.
I know I'm lonely when I check my e-mail, click on another site, and then check my box again to see if mail came in. Maybe I missed something. Sometimes I dial the voicemail on my cell phone to check for messages, even though the very colorful and accurate display screen reads "no new messages." Maybe the screen messed up. When I get home from work, my first stop if my office to check my phone. Aha! The little green light on my caller ID box is flashing. A new message! I dial into the system. I punch in my code. I wait. I frown. I hang up. Another telemarketer wants to sell me solar heating for my pool.
As that unidentified organ near my stomach begins to pump the lonely feeling into my body from ears to toes, I resort to the backup plan. Noise, motion, a task, any distraction is all I need to stave off the growing hunger. I turn on the radio. Nuts! Commercials. I turn on the TV. Fifty-five channels of boredom. I eat. I just bought these cookies, how can they be stale? I drink. Remember to buy more milk. I sleep. Why do all my neighbors have dogs? I do laundry. I mow the lawn. I write out bills. I make my bed. I play video games. I write. I run errands. I organize my closet. I read. I vacuum. I desperately search for any distraction to deaden the pain.
Finally I find myself sitting on my couch thinking, Maybe I should call somebody. I haven't talked to Dave in a while. Dave moved to Colorado three years ago, and since then we've talked twice. What about Brandy in New Jersey? We need to catch up. I haven't talked to Brandy at all in two years. If someone does call to ask a quick question, I become unusually friendly. So how are you? What's new with you? I'm sure the caller can see through my charade.
Now the organ inside is working overtime. I'm consumed with loneliness. I grow bitter. Why don't more people call me? I'm a nice guy. I think about all the things I've done for other people and wonder why they don't do more for me. I think about Friday night approaching—I've received no invitations and made no plans. Time for a one-man pity party. I bet everybody is going out on Friday night except me. I embellish the fantasy in my mind by imagining all my friends at a rocking party with great music in the background. They're all standing around with beautiful partners on their arms.
Why is everybody happy and connected except me? I shouldn't have to live like this. I'm made for so much more.
Indeed I am.
I'm sure if someone took a survey, one of the most often quoted Bible verses among singles would be Genesis 2:18, in which God looks at newly created Adam and declares, "It is not good for man to be alone." I've personally browbeaten God with this verse many times, but with few results. God himself said it's not good for a man to be alone. I figure sometimes I need to remind him of that fact.
Adam's story isn't much different from that of many singles. He strikes out into the world ready to prove he can survive in the jungle. Due to lack of competition, he builds a successful landscaping business that dominates the market. Yet when Adam takes time to smell the roses, he feels the hunger of loneliness. Alarmed by the realization that success isn't enough, he longs for somebody special in his life, somebody who can help with the business and comfort him when he comes home at night.
Then comes the part we all long for as singles. While Adam sleeps, he dreams of meeting a perfect mate. This mate is a lot like him and they have much in common, but there's also something very different. The mate can do things he can't do, understand things in ways he can't understand. Together their life is fulfilling.
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