Monday, June 28, 2010

Being alone with myself and a few thousand others

I traveled to the outskirts of Boston this weekend to celebrate the marriage of a dear friend. Although my friend married in November, she and her new husband waited until this past weekend to gather their family and friends together in celebration. My closest friends from graduate school were there and we fell into that easy rhythm that you can create with the people you carry in your heart, despite such infrequent contact. And it was so, so lovely to share such an important occasion with my friend, who deserves every ounce of happiness that this life has given her.

Because of frequent flier restrictions, I ended up flying there on Saturday and returning here to Virginia today, Sunday. And, since I flew out of our wee small local airport my total commute time round trip was fourteen hours. I didn't really mind though because it is the first time I can remember in eons when I was totally, completely alone. And what a luxury that was! I mean, of course, I was surrounded by people but I was free to focus my mind on whatever I wanted. I decided ahead of time that I would take real advantage of this and make an effort to slow my mind and not think too much. I often miss out on the feeling of things for the thinking of them.

By and large it was a great success. Here are some of the observations I made, most of which brought my thinking back to Oliver:
  1. Communication can be a lot of work. It feels pretty good to take a break from it once in awhile. (I've got one kid who doesn't talk and one who won't stop: it can be exhausting!)
  2. How I feel about myself is sometimes influenced by my perceptions of the people around me. (It's a big world out there with all kinds of people!)
  3. Feelings of vulnerability can be extremely anxiety producing. (I mean, I was flying for pete's sake!)
  4. Anxiety over the unfamiliar and the pressure to perform can really impact my ability to be social (Otherwise known as rental car anxiety!)

And finally:

It is so weird this window that we get into the lives of others because of technology.  I find it SO odd that a person would carry on a lengthy private phone call, in a normal tone of voice, in a very public and crowded place. Is this vanity? Is it a total lack of consideration? I just don't get it. Someday I'm going to get up the courage to continue the conversation with the person after he hangs up.
I can't believe your wife did that. I mean, it sounds like you are seriously busy with all this website stuff you are working on. What did your mom say? Did she agree with you? I certainly do. And isn't that funny that you and your father are both having cataract surgery in the same year. And it is so good that you finally got to connect with your parents for that 45 minute call after having been in and out of Syracuse, Albany, the UK, the Netherlands and now Russia for the past month! I'm sure everyone here in the waiting area agrees that you are a very cool person.
Tomorrow it is back to regular life. I'm not so sure I'm ready. Re-integration can be hard. But now that I'm reacquainted with my quiet mind maybe I can carry that with me for awhile.

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