The Lonely Dragon

My father once said he’d often been alone, but he’d never been lonely. As a professional writer his entire adult life, he always chose his words with precision. But, I never learned his secret of how to not be lonely. Alone is easy: I have been alone on an aircraft carrier; alone on a crowded street (to borrow the cliché); in fact, I prefer alone – as I believe most writers do. And, as I grow older, I find I work harder to achieve a state of being alone. Lonely is another matter entirely.

Apparently our old friend, Billy Shakespeare, used it first when Coriolanus goes to a lonely dragon. Then, on this side of the pond, Thoreau says that we are more lonely when we are among men. More recently Pirsig reiterates the idea of being completely alone, even with others.

What is interesting is that my father volunteered that he had never been lonely; and he never volunteered much, especially about himself. Yes, that does beg the question.

For my part, being lonely was a constant companion. Whereas I seek solitude, and peace and quiet (during Eucharistic Adoration today, a couple sitting directly behind me – I learned as I left, an elderly couple (their whispering was meant for the stage) – kept up a constant conversation – great Penance for me), loneliness is like unwittingly stepping in dog shit and not being able to scrape it off: the stench is as persistent as it is pungent (I must admit that I have never knowingly stepped in it, so I guess “unwittingly” is redundant?). Do I need to mention unpleasant?

I don’t know why my father wrote; he had the uncharacteristic inconsideration to die before I learned to talk to him. He once said that the only thing he ever feared was the empty page. I write to feel less lonely, and I revel in the empty page (or rather, I revel in filling the empty page).

My spiritual growth blossomed early and then took a detour in the desert, and recently has, thank GOD, returned to an oasis where it has, once again, blossomed. Very much a version of, “there, but for the Grace of GOD, go I”; but that subject is for another day. And with this renewal, the lonely dragon has evidently been vanquished. But, Dad was not what I would call a “GOD fearing man”; respectful, yes; conscious, yes; but neither Mom (my Roman Catholic roots) nor Dad spent much time on religion outside of church. So, I find it hard to imagine that Dad found strength in his Faith – not impossible, mind you: I am sorry to say I never knew him well (which, fittingly, my daughter could easily say about me; if she cared, that is).

Whereas, I was jerked back into consciousness, out of the stupor of wanting to be part of the American dream, when Pope John Paul II died. Perhaps it was a miracle that I was found – I was most definitely a lost sheep (of Biblical proportions, I assure you), but I think not. And having discarded so much desire of wanting to be part of the rat race, I began to hear Christ knocking on the door. Yeah, still a lot of work before I get the door open (the hinges are rusted shut), but I find I am no longer lonely. Dad may have exiled the dragons with his command of the written word (and, bully for him, if true); I have found peace in the Word of GOD.

2014 has all the signs of being a watershed year for me, and I have known a few. After 29 years with “The Company”, the position I have had the past six months is moving south. In one way, it is literally moving from Puget Sound to Southern California. In another way, this “crown jewel” of the company (to use the words from some high muckety-muck), is going south, as in down the tubes. Which puts me in the position of trying to find another paycheck; or, letting them put me out to pasture and thanking GOD that I don’t drink their Kool-Aid (the company, very characteristically has promised the press that it will help everyone find employment, and since I long ago learned not to believe either the company or the press, I am not putting all my eggs in that handbasket).

I had planned on working for another five, or ten years, which makes this news something of a fiscal shock. The desire to retire from the rat race and the ability to retire from it could not be more stark; but, Dad financed the raising of five kids on his pen (Mom raised us, but Dad paid the bills); surely, with far fewer mouths to feed, I can do the same? Besides, I look forward to having the time to explore the spiritual side of life, instead of chasing the temporal side of life. However, the habit of pursuing a paycheck for the past 43 years will be hard to discard.

There be dragons?

Yes, there may be dragons; but maybe it is time I left a sinking ship.

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