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  • Ever been in a crowded room & felt quite alone?
    How about on a crowded subway in a metropolis you’ve never met?

    How about earlier.
    That walk to the principal’s office anticipating the worst?
    Or to the oval office with formulae for atomic fusion under your arm?
    Convincing a Doge of Venice in 1625 that Earth is not the centre?

    Ever dug up the courage to tell the truth? When you didn’t absolutely have to?
    Lonely huh? All alone.
    Ever asked on your knees an impossible wish?

    Have you stared into the darkness of divorce?
    Ever been ridiculed for hard-earned beliefs?
    Laughed-at ‘cause you're different?

    Ever made a bold choice & wound up alone?
    Ever made the right choice & washed up on a deserted island?

    How about the flip-side scenario? Being totally alone & totally okay.
    Sitting fireside with pine trees for company.
    Taking-in an aurora borealis at least two days’ paddle from human resources?
    Is that kind of alone okay with you?

    Have the dimensions of experience been explored to the edge?
    Bottom of the ocean, top of the hill?
    Middle of nowhere can be the centre of downtown...it all depends.

    Are you sure about who’s lonely?
    About who’s alone inside of you?
    Have you even met yourself yet?

    Ever been afflicted with disease?
    Confronted death & lived to tell?
    Ask that person about alone. Lonely.

    Ever been perfectly happy
    talking with self, not seeing
    or hearing anyone for days?

    Way I see it, alone & lonely are two sides of the same coin.
    Essentially, there are times when we’re happy to be on our own & others when we long for the comfort of familiar faces.

    Then again, some things are just done alone (like breathing)
    & other things are just done mostly lonely (like thinking deep thoughts).
    In the end, perspective is the great clarifier about what's lonely & what's alone.

    Lín’s recent piece affirming Alone is not Lonely, is a fine examination of some of these nuances,
    & while it seems clear Lín is at peace (about decisions she made to lead a life suited to her)
    she struggles with the limited manner in which others perceive her situation.

    Like Lín, many of us (dreamers?) feel as though the task of shaping a life in coherence with principles is sufficiently arduous, without the additional perplexity of focusing other people's perceptions. As is often the case & which Lín so deftly outlines, those most well-intentioned & closest to us, can also be relentless in their limited perception of how we wish to be. In brief, they would prefer us to be more like them. As Lín suggests, “ To them, I’m an alien creature, impossible to comprehend and somewhat unsettling.”

    The stigma of non-conformism, of being stubborn or defiant
    (which usually accompanies decisions which assert our independence)(a willingness to live at the edge of the world)
    is standard fare for individuals (& collectives) who are simply not satisfied with what's on the menu.

    That those (who have already ordered)(probably the same old thing)
    keep pushing the same menu back in our faces
    imploring we make up our minds,
    is a necessary discomfort to be shouldered. Sad, but true nonetheless.

    By the halfway marker in life, (40 is a reasonable number)
    we’ve come to an understanding of the dynamics of decision-making & how they play out
    regardless how niggling & pesky & abrasive accepting this may be.

    At the half-way point we are no longer big boys & big girls...we’re fully adult & aware & advised.

    One of my first pieces Life's Whatever You Risk, concerns itself with the importance of lonely decisions.
    Lonely decisions you might ask?
    Yes, decisions we make on our own.

    Decisions that affect hundreds, perhaps millions.
    Your brother, your mother, your very best friend.
    A lonely decision might affect only you.

    I tried to conjure Marco Polo on his Silk Route sojourn
    tracing the steps of his uncles’ earlier trek, but this time, alone.
    I tried to evoke the loneliness of a Cristóbal Colón
    sailing uncharted seas unaware what destiny might prevail.

    A citation of his has always helped me: “To cross the ocean you must lose sight of the shore.”

    Choosing a direction in life can be lonely.
    The weighing of options & embracing of outcomes falls to one’s self alone.
    Lucky are you if these testy moments are supported by familiar faces.
    These same projects however, just as easily, can be discarded as reckless.

    Personally, I am finding that some of the loneliest decisions occur mid-life.
    Post-divorce. Two teenagers in college. Parenting almost done.
    Travel & relocation welling up inside. Taste for adventure & creative projects.
    Collaboration with still to be discovered dynamics.

    Leaving one set of circumstances in order to embrace another.
    Where? When? Why?
    Trio of lonely decisions I have to make alone.
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