Have you ever noticed that your times of most acute loneliness are often in the company of people that you know very well? Or even worse, in a social setting that you possibly helped introduce a newcomer to the group, only to later find yourself the outsider? Before you know it, you seem to be on the outside looking in, your opinions sought only after the actual decision has been made, the easy banter that is ensuring tending to “tighten up” when you arrive?
It matters not a whit that this condition may only be partially be actual, as perception becomes a self fulfilling reality, causing the odd man out to withdraw even further, either away from the group or inwards toward themselves.
Or what if, God forbid, that new introduction is a child? One that you spend a lifetime ensuring that they assume their proper place in the world, only to find yourself growing gradually less relevant in the very social constructs that you helped establish them in the first place? Of course, this is the natural progression of life, but so is incontinence and memory loss; that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.
I think that this is especially painful for fathers, as, as a rule, mothers tend to more often than not side with their children, leaving goofy old dad standing bewildered on the outside wondering “what in the hell just happened? I used to be relevant!”. Now, before you start stockpiling torches and pitchforks, or poking pins in stumpy little voodoo dolls, I admit that there are multiple exceptions to every rule. If this doesn’t fit your particular case, I’m extremely happy for you, just spit it into your napkin and move on down the buffet.
But if it does, consider this: there is an old saying in the sales business, “if you can’t fix it, feature it”. Whether perceived or real, loneliness can sometimes be countered by being embraced by a cocoon of soltude; then it’s on YOUR terms, and you, not society, can determine the time of your metamorphosis and eventual emergence as a changed creature.
Then again, I may be as full of crap as a Christmas goose; I find that this is more often than not the case these days. You know it’s time to get off of the motorcycle and return to the real world when you find yourself giving the old “head nod” to a group of free range cattle standing on the side of the old gravel road that you find yourself traveling.
And they solemnly return the salute, munching their cud in the cloud of dust you leave in your wake.
We be of one blood, ye and I.
Somewhere in the mountains of northern New Mexico