As I was growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s both of my parents held down jobs to raise our family in the unsteady economy. My mom often worked a normal eight to five job in an office while my dad, a self-employed contractor, had a varying schedule and could be gone for eight hours a day or weeks at a time. Because of my parents’ work schedules, more often than not my brother and I would arrive to an empty house and had to fend for ourselves with the television as our supervisor.
The six channels we could pull in via the antenna provided my brother and I with more than enough entertainment. We would watch re-runs of Knight Rider, Magnum P.I., The Greatest American Hero, The Incredible Hulk, and Highway to Heaven. The main characters were individuals going through life alone while fighting evil corporations, reuniting families, and making a small difference in the world.
As an introvert, I admire these individuals for being the lonesome drifters that they were. Being alone is attractive to me because I have no one to answer to, I have no one depending on me, I have no one to disappoint me and I won’t disappoint anyone else. I can go at my own pace, do what I want, and not answer to anyone. As I grew up, I suppose I took these lessons I saw to heart, and while I didn’t drift too often, I was good at the lonesome part. I tended to keep to myself and live life alone.
There are times when being alone can become lonely, and there have been more than a few times in my life when I have needed friends or, at the very least, an extra pair of hands to help me. I needed friends when I was battling depression, when my grandma passed away, and on more than one lonely Friday night. I needed people when I was leading twenty-two middle and high school students on a youth retreat and when I was discerning my call to seminary. While it’s one thing to be an introvert, it’s another thing to try to be some ill-conceived lonesome drifter.
While a person can do many things alone, it’s not always the best road to take, and even my T.V. heroes had sidekicks. Despite my childish thinking, those lonesome drifters always had someone they could lean on, depend on, and they knew that they were not completely alone. That’s the lesson I should have taken from my hours of viewing: we can’t do things alone and do them well.
I need others. It’s difficult for me to admit this, but it’s the truth. I need people to help me with life. I need people to keep me accountable. I need people to encourage me. I need people to challenge me. Without people around me to prod me on I become still and stagnant, and I begin to deteriorate. I need people to do life with me and help me become the best me I can be.
We need one another, and there’s no way to make it in this world. I hope and pray that we all can find our sidekicks, our compadres – the Mark Gordon to our Jonathan Smith. May God open our eyes, clear our minds, and make room in our hearts for others to join us on this life’s journey. And may we look for others to join with and make this journey a little less lonesome.
much love. sheth.