"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Thursday, April 15, 2004
null Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle French nul, literally, not any, from Latin nullus, from ne- not + ullus any; akin to Latin unus one -- more at NO, ONE
1 : having no legal or binding force : INVALID
2 : amounting to nothing : NIL
3 : having no value : INSIGNIFICANT
4 a : having no elements b : having zero as a limit c of a matrix : having all elements equal to zero
5 : of, being, or relating to zero
6 : ZERO
You wouldn't believe how much this sucks.
The vacuum, I mean.
Let me explain this a bit better.
Flashback to Sunday. It's Easter. I've promised my wife I will go to church with her, so I do. She chooses an Episcopal church, a very formal one that I am unfamiliar with, having been raised in the Presbyterian church and then in various non-denominational churches, all of which were informal.
Now, don't get me wrong. The church was beautiful. The service was VERY reverent. It was well done, and I was impressed by how this church valued it's young people. The people seemed to me to be devout, to really believe in Jesus, unlike some churches I have been to.
But for some reason, I felt out of place.
Probably because, for me, I have no connection to that church. I'm not Episcopal. So, it was like getting invited to a stranger's wedding.
My wife had declared that she did not want to have any sort of Easter dinner or family gathering (even though I had wanted to.) About three o'clock, we were hungry so we went to one of those eat-too-much-to-be-good-for-you buffet places.
Before you read any further, understand that I mean NOTHING bad about what I am going to relate here.
We went, and the restaurant was very crowded, pretty much full. We were seated, and my wife looks at me and says "Cliff, we are the only two white people in this entire restaurant."
I had completely not noticed. And I completely didn't care. I am about as color blind as it gets, and am usually startled when someone else isn't.
As we ate lunch, I noticed a group of two couples just across the aisle from us. They were laughing, joking, just generally relaxing and enjoying each other. I took some pleasure in the honor of being close to this joy, while I think the raucousness irritated my wife.
The place was full of families that had just left Easter Sunday services, but their services had been different from mine. They probably didn't have a bell choir or a big expensive pipe organ. Instead, they probably had electric instruments, tambourines, and a lot of dancing and hollering.
They had had fun. For hours and hours, which is why they were eating lunch at three in the afternoon.
A lot of that fun and joy spilled right into the restaurant, and not only at the table across from me. There were little girls running around in their pretty Easter dresses with lots of ribbons in their hair, each one meticulously tied with love. There were big moms in big dresses balanced on tiny high heels. There were guys that felt better in their suits than they did all week in their coveralls. There were even great grandmothers in cornrow hair braids.
That night, it hit me. I really envied those people.
Monday I spoke with my therapist, a great guy who has a talent for getting to the root of a problem. Which is good, because I am an almost impossible nut to crack, and it has taken the better part of a year for us to get to any sort of workable level in me.
I told him about the restaurant. And he asked me when I last remembered being that much at ease with anyone.
And I thought.
And I thought some more, farther back.
It was twenty years ago that I felt like that, that I had a friend like that.
A friend where you could go over and just knock on the door without calling first, and where you didn't feel like you had to clean house for them to visit. A friend that would listen to your problems and help you work through them, and you knew you could tell them anything and it wouldn't matter. A friend that you could go show off your new car stereo to, that you could grab lunch with, go to a movie with. A friend that wasn't linked by marriage or blood or anything like that, but only by friendship.
It grieves me to admit that I just don't have one of those, and I haven't in two decades.
So I told my therapist this.
And that is when we turned over the next stone.
You see, where most people have friends, I have a vacuum. My "support system" is missing its heart.
And it is a huge gaping hole into which I now find myself tumbling uncontrollably.
Like all vacuums, it is sucking me in.
You wouldn't believe how much this sucks.
The worst solitude is to be destitute of sincere friendship.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)