I am a loner. My dad is a loner and I am his son. I’ve always had a fear of being an angry, lonely, old man that nobody wanted to have anything to do with. To be a burden to my girls or an embarrassment to my granddaughters. But, inside I have always been a loner.
The past five months have taught me there is a difference between being a loner and being lonely. It started on a Thursday evening, back in late June, on an evening when I just had to get out. Used the phone to find a local Sports Bar and found one half a mile away. Walking through the door I decided I had to change my method of operation, so I introduced myself to the bartender and asked her name. She introduced me to several other people sitting around me and the conversations started. This place was like a huge hall of friends. Every time someone else comes in the people ask, “Do you know __________ ?” This establishment has such a diversity of people, backgrounds, and stories it is amazing. People from 21 to 90 all there for a good time.
Well, good time is a relative term. You see this is where I learned the difference between being a loner and being lonely. An example is an older gentleman came in one afternoon and the group I was talking with turned their attention to him. Greeting him, asking how he was, why he hadn’t been to breakfast, or to the golf course. His response was he just didn’t care any more. They continued to talk to him and reminisced about good times they all had shared. He wasn’t buying what they were selling. He went to the restroom and the man next to turned and said, “He lost his wife of fifty some years about two months ago.” He returned and they continued to try to pick him up and he finally said, “Just leave me alone! I don’t have anything to live for and may as well just lay down and die.”
Well, this fellow has been back a few times since then and every time he looks worse than the time before. The staff of the bar and patrons all show their concern for him, but he just wants to be left alone to have his drink. There is a noticeable sadness in this man that I don’t really know, but everyone can see it in his walk and demeanor. A sadness brought on by the loneliness of loosing a spouse of fifty some years.
There are several widows and widowers who frequent this establishment as well as many who are divorced. They haven’t given up on the hope of life, seeing friends, and having a good time. Granted some of them aren’t alone by choice, but there is a noticeable difference between those who are alone and those who are lonely.
Yes, I am a loner by choice, but I am, thankfully, far from being lonely.