Recently, I went to a repair shop to get my cell phone fixed. My friends and family had been complaining of late that when they called me, my voice sounded muffled and too quiet. It turned out that the entire microphone system needed to be replaced.
When I dropped the phone off, I was told to come back somewhere between forty minutes to an hour later. I agreed and went on my merry way. However, when I suddenly grasped the fact that I didn’t have my phone to help me pass the time, I began to feel anxious. I always have what to do on my cell phone; I could have easily killed an hour surfing between CNN Breaking News and any formal study I felt like investigating.
Now, I was simply alone at the mall without any goal or source of entertainment. I didn’t want to sit down by myself and eat a meal I needed like a hole in the head; I didn’t want to sit down on a bench and stare into space. I didn’t relish the prospect of window-shopping, gazing at merchandise in which I had no interest. The prospect of wandering, alone and aimless, contemplating some of the more rigorous existential dilemmas, upset me.
What was so great about this challenge? It’s not as if I am incapable of occupying myself in solitude. Yes, I do meditate; it’s a daily practice of forty-five years. Yes, I am an avid reader, wolfing down several books at a time. Furthermore, I am ashamed to divulge an embarrassing truth: I’ve loved television since the fifties.
So, what gives? As I consider the question, I realize that the problem isn’t being alone – it’s being alone without my preferred distractions. Something about this thrust me into a strange identification with lonely people, those who are devoid of friends and family.
There are many people on this planet who have basically no one to love them. If they have a social life, it’s either superficial or based on some kind of mutual convenience.
I have been so fortunate to have been spared that in life. Yet now I suspect that the fear of a friendless universe poses some kind of threat I can’t shake off.
I’m a people person first and foremost. When I’m out and about, I prefer to be in the company of someone I enjoy, someone with whom I can schmooze and relish a feeling of camaraderie.
Wouldn’t you know it, just as I was reconciling myself to the situation, I bumped into a dear, old friend who was as happy to see me as I was to see her. Dear Drora and I have been pals for decades. We popped upstairs to an old haunt, where we had breakfasted well over a dozen times. We commenced to share our lives, comparing notes on our latest adventures and capers; one of our favorite topics was the GRANDCHILDREN. After a wonderful hour, we departed, promising to meet again soon.
How lucky I am to have so many people in my life whom I love and adore, who so gladly reciprocate these feelings.