Sunday, February 10, 2019

In Solitude

Ah yes the day when all those in love or at least pretending to be comes up later this week.  The candy hearts, the flowers, the pledges of devotion and the rest all happen on the day of the 14th.  I will be alone as I have been for decades now and don't see that changing any time soon.

Of late I have debated if I am lonely or just alone or a combination of each.  I have come to the conclusion I am just alone and it is by choice; however, I do think that if I do this much longer I will be unable to find the skills needed to be integrated into a world that continues to fascinate me.  And when I use the word fascinating it can be double ended as in both good and bad and that is how I responded to the question to "How do you like Nashville?" for so long and then I stopped and now say, "I don't."  I learned early on that either/or response garners no further inquiry as here in Nashville people don't care.

Yesterday I went to my coffee spot where is the sole place I go to interact and find connection and it was packed so I left and came back two hours later and it was still packed so I asked them to put on hard thrasher music so that it would clear out the house.  It worked and many drank up and left but then so did I as I just felt I needed to go home and hibernate. I can only be around so many people before I feel deeply uncomfortable and then as I left I told a Barista why and she said that she just had customers that came in and asked her what was wrong with them as everyone was staring at them.  She informed them it had nothing to do with them individually it is just what people do here they stare at people.  I had not actually realized that but that was something I had noticed and thought it was about me and I had said repeatedly to the kids there to stop doing that as customers noticed but I realized that it was not just the staff it was everyone.  The kids in the schools are these odd freaks that note every detail, comment on everything and are utterly inappropriate that I simply had decided that race, poverty and the culture contributed to that.  It happened to me at the Symphony one time too many and as a result I quit going so I have internalized this and again apply this to Nashville as a whole and it became another reason in which to loathe the place. 

As the building I live in turns condo another neighbor is moving out.  They are Black and I have spoken to them twice, when the moved in and now when they are moving out.   They have come in and out of the building and I have never seen them with windows or blinds open and never spoken to them at any time.  This is common here but many of the young white people do open windows and speak but this again is rare and if not uncommon.  No one speaks here unless cornered.   A neighbor and I finally spoke and he lied to my face about his moving and the following week I noticed his front porch cleared off and he was gone.  This is Nashville, transient, anti-social and ill educated. 

So this may be America today as there is no community.  Today on CBS Sunday Morning they had the front story about Being Lonely.  It profiled a man who simply quit talking to people for 20 years and then just stopped as he started.   Which was even more ironic that it was preceded by a couple who only bike in tandem.    And later  the broadcast had a profile with Steve Hartman covering the last story he would ever do on his father.   Steve noted he was now an Orphan.  Funny I have been an Orphan now over 25 years,  I never spoke to my father before he died as by then his own anger and isolation had led him into two more marriages after my Mother died and we never were able to establish any relationship after her death that would have enabled us to bond and I wondered who was responsible for that or can you assign blame to people who never had to begin with?  So no Steve Hartman was wrong to think that you can never have love that unconditional in one's life when you may have never had it.    

And just like the South there were two more stories about Nashville on the Sunday stories, one on the Today show about women in Country Music and in turn another on  CBS Sunday Morning about Dolly Parton.  The Today show discussed how Nashville was a boy's town and how women in country music are rarely given the airplay or respect in the industry from bars with their names on them to the recognition of their concerts or sales in the industry and this has been going on for quite some time. While meanwhile on CBS their story was  about Dolly Parton's legendary career and her contributions to music all while not responding to the question: Are you a feminist? The promptly listing all the qualifications and beliefs that feminists possess.  Yes this is Nashville the perpetual conundrum and contradictions that make it impossible to ever decode.

And maybe that is why the man in the profile stopped talking as sometimes you come away from conversations wondering about if you make any sense. And that question was asked and in turn the reality is that a major problem as how do you reach out to find that elusive tribe in which we are told we all belong?

I chose not to belong but it is I hope temporary but even I look at my history and wonder if I was ever a member of any tribe? 

Social isolation is a term often used interchangeably with loneliness, but while the two are closely related, they do not necessarily mean the same thing.
You can be lonely in a crowd, but you will not be socially isolated. Isolation has been defined as an objective state whereby the number of contacts a person has can be counted, whereas loneliness is a subjective experience. While the terms may have slightly different meanings, both can be painful experiences and have a harmful impact on the individual

Social isolation describes the absence of social contact and can lead to loneliness. It is a state of being cut off from normal social networks, which can be triggered by factors such as loss of mobility, unemployment, or health issues. Isolation can involve staying at home for lengthy periods of time, having no access to services or community involvement, and little or no communication with friends, family, and acquaintances.

There are many contributing factors to social isolation. Many things can prevent people from leaving the house and having contact with other members of society, such as long-term illness, disabilities, transport issues, unemployment and economic struggles, or domestic violence.
Some may be physically able to go out and meet people but are inhibited from doing so by factors such as depression, social adversity, becoming a carer for a loved one, or bereavement. Any of these factors can be barriers to forming and maintaining social networks and can lead to loneliness and isolation.

So what is loneliness versus being alone?  I think it is about quality over quantity and that number of four of those to whom you belong may explain much of what I see here - little education, early marriage, immediate children following marriage and a tangential but essential membership to a local church.  Keep your family close and strangers away.  The door that closes here in Nashville rarely opens and when it does it comes with a caveat - have a check - as money is all that truly matters to gain entry. That is where we are now in America finding where we belong or not and those with money have the private clubs and those who don't have social media.  Once again the poor get that of lesser quality.

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