This week I had the pleasure of "talking" with an old friend... someone that I was peripherally close to in High School. Thirty five years have passed since then, a lifetime, and yet somewhere in the mystical world of cyber space, we have developed a friendship that is comfortable and pleasant.
Maybe I'm getting lazy in retirement, but I love being able to sit in my "office", at my computer, talk openly and honestly and not have to worry about what I'm wearing, whether I look 54, the extra padding on my mid section or the other superficial judgments that we fear from those we only know peripherally.
We talk about our children and spouses, our jobs, our homes, our hopes and dreams and the memories of people we once were and wonder where they are now. We convince one another that there is wonder in being fifty something, that it's okay to still not know what we want to be when we grow up, and that we can be the swim ring for each other on those days when life seems to be pulling us under.
We shared an English class all those many years ago and Monday I start another. This one is creative writing and I'm trying to get more comfortable with being honest and concise and unafraid. With that in mind I have decided to share an essay that I found tucked away... it speaks to our connection and our solitude.
"September 15, 1994"
I have a theory that before we enter our human form we exist as part of a vast whole. Even at the moment of our conception, although somewhat individualized, we are still part of a larger whole. There is warmth and comfort and intense security in that infinite connectedness and when the umbilical cord is severed we go into a state of shocked separateness that we spend the rest of our lives trying to recover from.
As I sat on a park bench along the main walkway of a college campus observing the people passing, I had a remarkable revelation. We expend great amounts of energy expressing our individuality to a world that emphatically encourages independence. We are to "manage one's own affairs, make one's own judgments, and provide for oneself." Obviously, as a society, we place great value on being able to make it through life alone, yet what I saw in these wondrous new adults was a longing to reconnect to a larger whole.
They make incredible leaps toward establishing their identities, independent of family influence and childhood innocence. They wear their pants to their knees with their underpants glaring brazenly from behind, earrings in their noses, navels and knees, and dye their hair to match the afternoon sky. Bell-bottoms with flowers embroidered on the knees, mini-skirts, peasant blouses and clogs are as acceptable as Levis, tee shirts, high-tops and work boots. They come in every shape and size and color and yet through some mysterious force, those of like mind and measure find one another.
A group of Asian American young people walked by, deep in conversation. Their raven hair glistened in the sunlight, their dark eyes intense. They were followed by a group of African Americans, laughing lightheartedly over some private joke. Several boys, then several girls, a pair of skaters and a group of musicians, all moved by, enjoying the ease of their affinity.
Earlier in the week I had noticed a young girl dressed in black. She stood out because of her solitude... and her blue hair. This was not "old lady" blue, but a bright, brilliant, beautifully belligerent blue. She sat alone on the wall in front of the library. She sat alone in the dining hall, and she sat alone on the bench outside the bookstore. I had convinced myself that she chose to be alone, that she was making a brash statement that kept people at a distance. With great comfort I saw her today with two other young girls dressed in black. They too, had crew cuts, with flamboyant stripes of yellow and scarlet and they looked like bright flowers as they sat on the lawn by the fountain.
I expected to be observing college students whose main concerns were money, music, telephones, grades, clothes and dating. What I sensed was something altogether different. I saw marvelous people searching for a way to reconnect, to once again be a part of a larger whole. Up to this point, most of these kids had the security of home and family and, even in their rebellion, felt safe. When the cord is cut yet again, they are thrown like so many fragments into a sea of difference, and yet magically they are drawn together.
Ultimately, I am convinced, we will all return to the vast whole of our origin, but I am elated to see so clearly that we are not in this alone, and that our journey home needn't be a solitary one. although isolated within our physicalness, our spirits are free to search out and join with those who give us a sense of who we truly are, one small part of a much greater whole."
In 1994 Shannon was a sophomore in college. I was sitting on her campus, observing her peers. I love being able to return to that moment... to be reminded of my thoughts and my heart and how clear everything seemed to be. I know that I am suffering from the isolation of my "physicalness" while my sweet Shannon is free to search out and join with those who are who she truly is... who I will one day be. For now, I simply try to bridge the gap between Heaven and Earth by finding and appreciating the moments that reflect the undeniable pull of our fragments, forever and always, magically drawn together.