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Part of the Short Stories Series.

The Loner Alternative -- 09/14/09

The awareness of absence for another person first struck him at a very early age. It was a part of his very nature that he could form strong bonds of friendship very quickly. Those friendships often meant much more to him than to the others. Be that as it may, when his friends were not there, he missed them.

As he grew, a complication added to his nature. In order to deal with the uncomfortable aspects of missing his friends, he became a loner. A loner, by definition, avoids making too many friends. By not making too many friends, he unconsciously protected himself from missing his friends. By being a loner, he avoided loneliness.

This duality of approaches worked for several years. He enjoyed his small number of friends when they were there with him. He drifted back to loner status when they were not. Had he understood himself better back then, he would have worked on better approaches to dealing with his basic nature.

Long before he realized his dilemma, he fell in love. He loved being in love. While he was in love, he didn't need to be a loner. He drew her life into his, and thus, she was always with him. Even while apart from her, the impression of loneliness never visited upon him.

When his love relationship ended, the "missing reaction" came back with a vengeance. The loneliness hit him like an avalanche. He never really recovered from her loss.

As the years rolled by, he made new friends. He lapsed back into the pattern of relishing their presence and acting the loner in their absence. There was a change in him now. The intensity of loneliness for his lost love increased. He found it difficult to deal with this issue.

He entered his senior years a frustrated man. He reached age 70; age 80; even at age 90 the loneliness was relentless. His friends were all gone now. His love withered and died many years before. He resented being a loner, but that's all he could be now.

His deceased friends had never understood his absorption with "missing someone". They didn't comprehend his depth of loneliness. They never thought of him as a loner. He was a good friend to them, they spoke highly of him in that regard.

He died sitting alone on a park bench. If only he had recognized early on in life that he should have been his own best friend first and foremost. With that acceptance, he would have understood so much more and been just as good a friend to others. He could have learned from having loved and lost. He could have grown old gracefully without regrets. He could have lived the life his friends thought he lived all along.

Don


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