I have been coping pretty well with the absence of TV, Movies, Radio, and Books during Lent. I have found endless ways to entertain and amuse myself, but sooner or later there was bound to come a situation in which the best laid plans went out the window. Atypically, Brian had plans tonight that left me on my own (much more commonly, I am the one gallivanting off and leaving him home with the cat).
I actually thought I had it all worked out. When he left, I headed down to our favorite watering hole. However, when I got there I found it was jam-packed full or theater go-ers. No problem, it was about 20 mins to show time, so I ordered a glass of wine and figured I would wait out the crowd. Show time came and went and while about half the place emptied out, a LOT of people stayed. Every seat at the bar was taken and there were no friendly faces in sight (note: there were actually 2 *very* friendly faces, Elizabeth and Michael, who were working – but as the place was slammed they were more than occupied just trying to keep up with the crowd).
This left me sitting at a sofa in the back by myself, which felt vaguely pathetic. I’m perfectly happy and able to strike up a conversation with someone I’ve never met if I am sitting at the bar, but no one walks up to a person sitting by themselves in the corner and asks how their day went. Also, had it been slower, I could have been happy at the bar chatting with Michael and Elizabeth between other customers. My original plan was to order some food, slowly sip my wine and time my exit so I got home the same time as Brian. But given my current situation when Michael came to see if I wanted a second glass, I instead took the check. He asked what I was up to and I actually told him I was headed home to hang out with the cat. Oh my God, I just took one step to becoming the world’s most pathetic cat-lady.
Under other circumstances, this would have been a great time to swing by the store to grab some ice cream and curl up on the sofa (yes, with the cat) and watch a chick flick. But no movies, no TV, no distractions allowed these 40 days. I walked home to a quiet house and I was suddenly consumed by loneliness.
Loneliness is an unpleasant feeling in which a person feels a strong sense of emptiness and solitude resulting from inadequate levels of social relationships. ~Wikipedia
I did the next logical thing which was to fling myself across my bed and have a good cry. After I had no more use for that and I was just laying there, I started thinking about the whole point of Lent, which is to emulate Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. I wondered if Jesus was depressed and lonely during this time. The Gospels don’t say – the only clues we get are that he was hungry (Matthew and Luke), and that the angels attended him (Mathew and Mark). I know I certainly don’t do well when I haven’t eaten and if the angels were in attendance I’m guessing it wasn’t to hang out and socialize. I can only speculate, but I suspect he at least had some very lonely moments.
I considered giving up and turning on the TV. Easter is only a week away, it’s practically Sunday already, excuse, excuse, justification, rationalization, blah-blah-blah. But I didn’t. Darkness and temptation will find us whether we ‘fast’ for 40 days or not. Sometimes life sucks. Some days are filled with loneliness. But if we hold true to our beliefs (whatever they may be) we can resist temptation. I choose to observe Lent as a way to remind myself that it is possible to be faithful and true, regardless of the circumstance or difficulties I am facing. And this applies not only to my spiritual journey, but to my relationships, my running, and my work. It is easy to turn off the TV when I am with friends having fun, it is far harder when I am home alone and ‘hungry’ for human companionship. Learning to resist and to say no allows us to accomplish our goals and make our dreams come true, and the best way I know to learn is to practice.
“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” ~Unknown