Sunday, September 15, 2013

Belonging


“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”


“[I]t doesn’t matter whom you love or where you move from or to, you always take yourself with you. If you don’t know who you are, or if you’ve forgotten or misplaced her, then you’ll always feel as if you don’t belong. Anywhere. (xiii)”




Honestly, I feel a bit of wistfulness tonight, even sadness and some loneliness.  I just got home from being on the road for about two days.  I don’t mean two days straight.   I’m including the reunion, the people I saw, the interactions I had, all of which were wonderful.  There was, however, a lot of driving… a lot.  At the end of it, I feel tired and a little lonely.
I wish I had had a little more time with my friends, the new and the old ones.
I wish I had gotten there sooner. 
I wish I had had time to walk around Marina, Seaside or Monterey.
I wish the trips there and back had not taken so long.
I wish I had not gone alone.

I used to think that some people were meant to be alone.  I used to think I was.  Sometimes I wondered if that was the reason I was given the gift of writing; it’s a solitary pursuit.  In fact, it’s best and usually only done alone.  Like many people, I have gone through times where I feel like I don’t belong and that this would be my destiny.  This weekend was one of those times.
Then I realized that maybe I’m exhausted from hours and hours of driving.  Maybe I’m dealing with disappointment and not getting enough time and not getting to do the things I wanted.  And maybe I’m forgetting that I had a wonderful time not only at the reunion, but also at a coffee shop with an old classmate and at dinner with a former teacher and his lovely wife.
I think if I were meant to be alone in this life, those times wouldn’t have been the highlight of my weekend.  I think very few people are meant to be alone.  I think we all need to belong and in more than way.
First, I think all of us need to belong to a special person, someone who is just right for us.  The teacher and his wife who took me to dinner have been married for 46 years.  When I asked their secret, as I always do with couples who have been together for a long time, they said that they were friends.  At the reunion, I was happy to see another couple that have been married for 35 years and were together through most of high school. 
I think we also need to belong to a healthy and loving family.  This can mean parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, in-laws or children.  Maybe this is why most of us have so many relatives.  It gives us a lot of relationships to choose from if some aren’t as healthy as we’d like.  I’m fortunate that I have some amazing people in my family.
Beyond that, I think we need to belong to a segment of society.  This might be a club, a church, a classroom, a workplace or a sports team.  Belonging at this level means I feel a special bond because we have a common purpose.  Just being with the same people every day doesn’t make that happen automatically.  But when it does happen, it’s amazing.  In my experience I have sometimes had to create purpose and at other times I’ve seen it created almost as if by magic.  However it appears though, it’s amazing.
Finally, I think we need to belong to the world.  Here’s the paradox:  belonging to the world may mean I have to be alone.  When I write, I have to do it alone.  But it’s my gift to the world.   It’s my way of belonging, not as a means of getting approval, but as a way to contribute my gifts. 
When I offer my talents, I belong to something far greater than myself.  I belong to God who gave me the gift.  I belong to the world and to my friends and family who will hopefully be blessed by my gift.  And I belong to myself, because when I share my gifts, I am being the person I was meant to be.
I’m not alone. I never was.  I just had to Get Started and Keep Going.