If you know me, you would also know that my most FAVORITE thing to do in the whole, entire world is dance. It’s this strange addiction that I have, and if I haven’t danced for a while, I start feeling pent up, turn on our ‘surround sound’ and invite my room mates into the backyard for a dance party (when ‘Uptown Funk’ first came out, we thought we positioned ourselves strategically between the tree and the deck so no one could see us, until the neighbors started whistling, and our cover was blown).
But, perhaps more than dancing, my favorite thing in the whole world is connecting people to each other; whether it be through my dance team, social gatherings, Bible study, I love to provide a venue, and serve as a catalyst, for people to interact with each other. I love it when, people walk into my house, and I can introduce two strangers, and say, “This is my friend, she just recently moved back from Texas”, and my most favorite moments are when I can gaze at my backyard from my kitchen window, and watch the two bond via conversation.
I think this stems from my fear of being lonely. I joke about my irrational fear of fish (which is really a thing), but my greatest fear in the whole entire world is to be lonely. No, not the kind of lonely where you go to bed, by yourself, or the kind of lonely you feel when you are waiting in the check out line by yourself. As an introvert, I value my time alone, and like to be by myself, but I always like to know there is human connection when I desire it. Not this kind of lonely; the kind of lonely I am afraid of is the deep seeded kind of lonely; the kind of lonely where your emotions are trapped, because you have no functional way to express them; the kind of lonely where you have gone an entire day, week, month without connecting to anyone; the kind of lonely that there IS no upcoming event on the calendar for the foreseeable future.
I think this fear comes from my childhood; I spent a great deal of time, watching people be lonely; watching people spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, birthdays utterly by themselves. I watched people sit alone, for weekends at a time, because there was no event to attend. I watched people desperately try to explain their internal turmoil, only to fail for lack of adequate language. I watched how painful the suffering was, hope that I never have to undergo it, and hope that I never have to see anyone else undergo it as well.
To be quite honest, it is sometimes difficult for me to go to any job I hold, because I am forced to spend time with people who do not see the world the way I do. Going into yoga is always so fulfilling, because I can choose to associate with like-minded people, and it’s sometimes really painful to be in venues that I am forced to adapt to non-like minded people. This is perhaps what causes loneliness: not being understood, and not understanding. As I was driving to work the other day, I passed by a bus stop full of kids, and noticed there was a group of kids ‘hanging out’ together, and a few other strays, watching the action, but clearly not part of it, and it made me think about how many other venues we unnaturally force people to be together that do not like each other: bus stops, classes, work, neighborhoods. It’s actually probably really against the innate human makeup to be around people we do not get along with, but yet, it happens everywhere anyways.
It takes an extreme amount of courage to live, and life presents us with many moments that invite this loneliness. Like the kids at the bus stop, being in middle school (or high school for that matter) is very lonely, because you are awkward, gangly, and often feel like ‘no one understands you’. Divorce is lonely, because, inevitably, one parent is child-less during holidays. I always think it’s so painful to look in the stands, and see one parent, sitting alone, while every other parent congregates around each other and can celebrate winning moves together. Death is lonely, because no matter how similar your relationship to the person was, everyone grieves in a different way, has different needs to be met, goes at a different pace. We are given so many opportunities to experience this deep seeded feeling of loneliness.
This is one of the reasons we love coffee. In places, like Italy and France, coffee serves as a way to pass time. When you have five minutes to spare before your train leaves, it’s easy to walk over to a coffee shop, and buy a beverage there, whether you actually need the caffeine or not. It gives you purpose, a place to exist without being lonely and waiting for those five minutes. Or, when you walk into a meeting or a conference or church where it could be potentially awkward and lonely, you call someone up, and offer to bring them coffee; this way, it forces you to have a purpose when you arrive. You either have an excuse to find them right away, or you have an excuse to be standing by yourself, because you have coffee to exchange.
So, the thing I like best about weekends is having the ability to connect people. I love having people over to my house, and sitting by the fire, sharing camping stories. I love coaching a sports team, and watching families create long-lasting friendships. I love playing match maker, and watching potential relationships blossom. I love connecting people so that hopefully, this world can be a little less lonely of a place.