Alone, Lonely or Just Independent

I was sitting at my favorite restaurant this week and while eating my meal I noticed a little girl at the next table kept looking at me. After a while I started checking myself to see if I had spilled something on me or had something on my face that made her keep staring in such a way.

Her father was sitting next to her and tried to get her attention back on her meal but it was obvious she was thinking about something to do with me. After a while I seen her lean over to her dad she said “I think she’s lonely”

Kids say unusual things sometimes as they observe the world around them. She was making reference to me sitting alone at my table. I frequently go out to dine by myself. I am one of those independent people. If I want to do something and don’t happen to have anyone with me I will still go by myself and do it.

I never give it a second thought. It’s something I have done for years. Dining out is not the only thing I do by myself. I have been known to get lectures from my friends on going to an afternoon Major league baseball game or a Rock concert sometimes long distances from where I live.

What I do give a second thought to is when people think it peculiar that I do these things. Why should a person live their life content to only do the things their friends want to do or have time to do?

I have an eclectic listening taste in music. I think about all the wonderful experiences in music I would have missed had I not gone by myself because my friends did not like that kind of music or did not have the time or money to go to a concert. I think about the museums I would have missed or the great people watching experiences.

If you are with other people you miss a lot of what is going on around you. Not that I feel that is a bad thing. I think friends are great. And I love doing things with them. But they can distract from seeing a lot of life’s experiences

One such instance that comes to mind is when I met an online friend from Scotland who turned me on to a Man named Fish. His music is amazing. To me he has one of those voices that sings in the soul. His lyrics are great, but I just enjoy his voice.

I was living on the road with my husband about four hours from home. So none of my friends were anywhere near me. Fish made a trip to the US to do a small concert tour, which is a very rare event. I had a choice, go by myself, since my husband was working, or miss the rare event. So I drove 3 hours from where we were staying to go to his concert.

Not only did I get to see his concert and enjoy his music I got to meet him, talk with him and shared a few laughs. But I also met many other people that even years later I still have occasional contact with. It was a phenomenal experience for me that I will never have again. Since I left early to miss the rush hour traffic of Atlanta I also got to go to a really neat exhibit called the Cyclorama and Civil War museum near the Atlanta zoo.

Had I gone with friends I would have left at the last minute not gone to the exhibit on a whim and not met the great talented people I met that day. Not to mention getting to drive home with the scent of Fish’s cologne on my shoulder from a hug I got from the gentle giant.

Was it wrong for me to go by myself to such an event? I don’t think so. To most people what I did was outrageous, bordering on eccentric.

This was the way they felt about my vacation to go and stay with a friend and his family in Scotland when I had met him on the Internet.

By being independent I have done something none of my friends have done. I have traveled across the oceans and got to experience what it is like to live in another country. Not from a motel room as a tourist; though I did do some touristing, but was involved in day-to-day life with a real family and their friends that lived there.

My friends thought I was crazy. They thought I was throwing myself into danger and I would never live through it. Perhaps it was a bit dangerous. Perhaps it is a bit of an adrenalin rush to do things like this. But my life is exciting, and adventurous and full of experiences that many people never have and never will have.

I am not completely careless when I do things like this. I consider alternatives incase things go wrong.

I think of the lecture I got from some rock band friends of mine telling me it “Doesn’t look right” when they came across me walking back to my car a couple blocks away from Wrigley Field after a afternoon baseball game I went to by myself. They wouldn’t let me enjoy the rest of my leisurely walk thru the neighborhood to my car cause they were afraid or worried of how strangers would perceive me. (It’s not a bad Chicago neighborhood. or it wasn’t at that time) They lectured me all the way to my car. I just told them I had wanted to go to the game and I couldn’t find anyone else at that time that wanted to go. Each one told me if I to a game in the future to call one of them, and not go by myself. Most people would have felt they were a dangerous bunch to be around.

Perhaps I am naive. But I feel if something bad is destined to happen to me it can happen if I cross the street in front of my own house.

I think of that little girl and her words about thinking I was lonely. I only hope her father would one day encourage her to know the difference between lonely, alone and independent. And that she can find the joy in independence, and will be able to savor the experience of eating a delicious dinner alone in a restaurant without a thought of being lonely.

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