Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In Good Company

I’ve been told that country music is about life.  If so, country song writers must assume most people spend their lives behind the wheel of a truck, inside bars, or fighting with their lovers.  I get a good laugh at the titles of some of these songs.  I don’t recall ever hearing their lyrics, so I can’t confirm whether these songs are even real.  It doesn’t matter because I doubt the lyrics could live up to the titles.   Here are some of my favorites:  

My Wife Ran Away With My Best Friend, And I’m Missin’ Him
If The Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know It’s Me
How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away?
Get Your Tongue Outta My Mouth, Cause I’m Kissing You Goodbye
I’m Still Missin’ You Baby, But My Aim's Gettin' Better
I’m So Miserable Without You, It’s Like Havin’ You Here
If You’re Lonely When You’re Alone, You’re In Bad Company 

One of the above is not the title of a country song.  I’ll give you a second to see if you can figure out which one it is…. 

Give up?  

The last one is actually a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre, a mid-1900’s French existentialist philosopher, screenwriter, and novelist. Few people know less about French philosophy than I do, but I’ve learned Sartre, in addition to his writing prowess and free thinking, is known for declining the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964.  A decision I can safely say that I will never face.

As a writer, Jean-Paul Sartre probably knew a thing or two about being alone.  Judging by his quote, it seems he also must have felt comfortable being in his own company.  I would guess most writers do.  It’s not a vocation that’s performed well in front of an audience.  Being alone is a requirement of the trade.

There was a period in my life where I was lonely when I was alone. I’d spent most of my life surrounded by coworkers, family, and friends.  Suddenly, within a period of a few weeks, I found myself retired, widowed, and living in a new community far from established routines.  Being alone wasn’t something I was used to, and I handled it poorly. I collapsed into myself, thinking I was the only person ever to experience loneliness. During that period, I was in bad company when I was alone.

I eventually pushed through the other end of that dark period. Several people and activities helped me along the way.  I give a bulk of the credit to meeting a strong, beautiful woman who’d conquered loneliness years ago. She taught me to focus on today, something I’d never been good at doing.

I also credit writing with helping me deal with loneliness. The quality of my writing is debatable, but what it’s done for me isn’t.  It keeps my mind moving, gives me goals, and it shows me that the times when I’m alone I can be in good company.                 

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