Cliched Images, Lonely Excursion
I find myself connected to fewer people the older I become. A great deal of it is due to lack of effort on my part. Honestly, I think I like it that way. Being alone is something I enjoy a great deal. Sometimes though, I am a bit taken aback at how few people I interact with on a personal level. When I go out where people gather, my separateness becomes crushingly obvious.
Today, I met Sheryl for lunch at City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City. The arrival of this City Creek has added a surprisingly grown up feeling to the city. Something I did not realize we were lacking, but now am actually grateful for. It is a stunning place with retractable roofs that allow the natural light and beauty of an early June day to sparkle throughout the center.
The shops are very high end in most cases but the plethora of unique shoppers can be a bit stunning. They run the gambit, from kids out of school and already bored to suburban moms in the city for the day. I saw several professionals out for lunch time strolls and a few transients wandering through, hoping for a kind hand out. A few even had the look of cosmopolitan shoppers, high end sundresses and too expensive shoes adorning their bodies. I love the dressed down feeling I have when I am among such diverse people. My Jeans and T shirt letting me blend into the walls, the pathways. One person even tripped into me, no apology, no acknowledgement.
After letting Sheryl return to work, I grabbed an ice coffee and sat down near the fountains at the west end of the shopping area. I brought along my writing journal and found myself a bench half in shade and began to write.
The sun would occasionally break through and burn my eyes, making the page a brilliant white, distorting the ink I stained the page with, blurring my sight. I could only write for a few minutes, then my eyes would need to rest, to focus on something else besides the words I sloppily splattered.
I looked down at children playing in the water and the longer pools and fountains that stretched to the north towards the LDS temple. The sky is summer blue now and the deepness of it can take my breath away. Earlier in the day, I noticed the moon being chased by the sun, its sliver of a self barely half a sky ahead, almost caught. I tried to capture the image with my camera. I failed. Often the most beautiful moments in our lives pass by undocumented.
I could sit for hours, just watching the people pass. It is a difficult thing to express, the alone-ness one can feel in such situations. A few hundred people wandering through, some sitting, some talking and me knowing no one by sight.It brings into focus how few of the billions of people currently on the planet I have any contact with. Masses of individuals with lives just like mine, others with experiences so contrary to those I have had that we share little in common. The things we could teach each other…
I can admit, I was a bit overwhelmed and saddened by the thought. Such a tiny number of experiences, stories and emotions for a life. So much goes unappreciated, misunderstood and ignored.
Of course, I have no idea how to make that any different. Listen more? Ask more? Extend myself, my circles, my comfort zone? I often feel like I am intruding when I try to dig deeper into people, like I am pushing the boundaries of friendship and casual acquaintance to the breaking point, that I ask too much. I know I feel that way when someone asks too pointed a question, one that invites me to share more than I might be ready to or be comfortable with. It is always easier to just not ask, let the moment pass.
So little time to really see and do things. Our lives get in the way. We get in our own way. I get in my way.
A man washes windows on a relatively tall building. I wonder if he was ever afraid of it. I watched him for a while as he hung from nylon cord, swinging from window to window. What does he see? Is it only the work he concentrates on? I pretend I understand him, inventing his isolation. I like how it feels putting myself up there, even if the experience is mediated, filtered.
I walk to my car, the heat of the streets comforts me. I really do love summer. It is far too short a time. I want to share it with more of you. I can be alone in the winter.