Back to Love Basics 7, The Plus Side of Solitude Sucks

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in trying to find our soulmate that we forget about the pleasures of being alone. In case your suffering from the solitude sucks syndrome, may I suggest the benefits of not having someone else around to share life with.

Consider these advantages of being one and only one-

1. Living alone means making the bed is optional rather than submit to the control freak compulsions of a significant other.
2. Being alone means that making pancakes for breakfast on Friday at 9 p.m. requires no excuses.
3. Lonely people don’t have to share the last cookie not to mention feel the least bit guilty eating it.
4. Being alone means you can squeeze the toothpaste tube any darn way you want.
5. Alone means you can watch any television channel you want or those dvd’s you’ve been too embarrassed to share, and drink all the beer or eat all the ice cream you feel like in the comfort of your underwear, without any snarky feedback except perhaps from the pleading eyes of your dog. Okay, if you’ve got a dog you can’t possibly be lonely and don’t need to read the rest of this list.
6. Being alone means you need not explain to anyone just why you feel like blowing up balloons and then stoping on them after a trying day at work.
7. Alone means you can change the color of lipstick you wear every day without your room mate asking “Is something the matter?”
8. Single means that when you order a medium pizza you suddenly have enough “food” to last two entire days.
9. Being alone makes grocery shopping so much easier. “Did she say Toastie Crunchies” or was it “Chocolate Crispies?”
10. There is a singular bliss in solitude knowing that you can fart however and whenever you want.
11. Sleeping alone means you don’t have to pretend you are sleeping when he/she comes home late wanting to talk. Another plus on the subject of sleep is that alone means you don’t have to worry about snoring, unless, like me, you snore so loud you wake yourself up.
12. Being alone means you already have the one audience who will always listen to you. Yourself.
13. Perhaps the greatest gift of being alone is that now you are absolutely, totally available to whatever opportunity comes along. This means that when that elder gentleman in the tuxedo and top hat walks up to lonely you sitting by yourself in the coffee shop and says, “Excuse me, I can see that you are lonely and my anonymous employer has authorized me to hand you this round the world travel ticket including a check for $500,000 to cover expenses. The only stipulation is you must leave this week and you must travel alone.”

Of course, you can have only one answer…

“Me?”

And lastly, being “alone” makes you part of one of the world’s biggest ironies.

Consider this, you are sitting in solitude, feeling down, hoping that your life will change. At this very moment, all around the planet, there are millions of fellow loners just like you, with similar thoughts. Conclusion: you are actually surrounded by a sea of fellow solos. None of you are even close to alone.

I’m waiting for someone to stand up in Starbucks and shout, “Hey! Is anybody else lonely here?”

I’m listening…

Tio Stib Signature

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Back to Love Basics 6, Rejection Therapy, Bernie Sanders, and Why I Like Fly Fishing

It’s been a good day, mostly. I received a hugely positive book review, a number of projects I’m working on inched ahead, I met someone who might become a wonderful computer helper, and my wife and I created a surprisingly tasty meal together. Trust me, the last accomplishment was especially satisfying for a blind guy who lives for sumptuous taste.

So why am I writing about “Rejection Therapy,” Bernie Sanders and fly fishing?

Let’s start with “Rejection Therapy.” Just what is it?

Would you believe that “Rejection Therapy” is listed in Wikipedia? by that account, “Rejection Therapy” is a game invented by a guy who wants to help us get over our rejection angst. You win the game by getting the most people to reject you. I would do well with this game.

I’ve been playing “Rejection Therapy” most of my life. However, I’ve been playing in v-e-r-r-r-r-y s-l-l-o-o-o-w motion. As an example, it took me two years to recover from the shame of my first dating disaster before I even considered asking another girl out. By age forty, I’d reduced my recovery time to a mere three weeks.

What might this process have to do with you? Since life is all about relationships and I’m assuming you’ve had your share of these, I think it’s safe to guess that you’ve also had relationship failures. If this is true, the important question is-

How have you dealt with rejection?

Since this discussion is edging towards serious, let me break off and share my afternoon’s rejection therapy experience.

I happen to believe in the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. Without getting too much into it, suffice to say that I’d pretty much given up on American politics after Regan in the 80’s and generally avoided the stench of any news that came from the nation’s capitol. Yes, such behavior could be described as apathetic or un-American, but it was what it was. Then I found myself in the midst of a group of impassioned college kids pitching for Bernie Sanders, an old fart whose been standing up for what he believes is right for America more than thirty years. Those kids got my attention. I checked out Bernie and his ideas and soon I was another impassioned supporter promoting Bernie on street corners,, feeling hope for America again.

I was out this afternoon, standing on a corner in a small middle-class town wearing a big smile, sporting my best positive attitude, as throngs of people passed by on their way to the farmers’ market.

I put out a hearty “Good afternoon!” to everyone walking by. No political pitch, there was a big Bernie sign behind me with leaflets on a table. Just a hearty “Good afternoon!”

And what did I get in return?

Nothing.

They didn’t smile. They didn’t speak. They turned their heads, swerved to walk further away from me, did anything to pretend I didn’t exist.

Wow! I was stunned. I wasn’t pushing any hard sell for Bernie Sanders, just saying, “Good afternoon!”

Nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. I kept an approximate count, and from more than one hundred passersby, I received about five “Good afternoon to you,” responses, and even a few “Go Bernie!” quips. But most everyone went by pretending that a smiling human being, decently dressed, clean shaven, offering a simple “Good afternoon!” didn’t exist.

As I began processing what was going on, my mind flashed on other “Rejection Therapy “ experiences I’ve had. If you’re a writer, perhaps we’ve shared similar countless agent and publisher rejections. but, have you ever been fly fishing?

I hugely enjoy fly fishing for steelhead and trout. I’ve gone entire days without a single strike, not one indication that fish live anywhere near where I’ve been fishing. Yet, this is not upsetting. Sure, a bit disappointing, but like the “Rejection Therapy” game where players can ultimately learn to be at peace with rejection, I’ve learned to pay attention to the total fishing experience and not worry about catching fish. Drifting down a beautiful river, taking in the sounds of Nature, rushing water and songbirds, feeling a warm breeze on my face filled with the sweet scent of pine trees. All these things let me cast hundreds of times without a trace of an excited fish.

I recalled my fishing feelings as people continued to pass by, paying me no heed. Suddenly, I was standing on the bank of the River of Life, taking a deep breath of the fresh jasmine filled air, feeling the sun’s warmth on my face, noting that in front of me flowed a constant stream of fish faces, most of them a species I was not interested in catching. I smiled and kept casting, believing that eventually a bright and curious human being would come by.

Assuming you, my friend, are also seeking mutually supportive intimacy in your life, you’ve also been doing your own form of “Rejection Therapy.” I can only hope your recovery period is significantly less than my current two and one half weeks. The next time you’re turned away, consider seeking a different kind of people to play with, or even a new place to fish.

In case you enjoy such things, here are a few parting thoughts-

“you only catch fish when your line’s in the water.” -a smart ass guide watching me trying to untangle my line from a tree that wasn’t supposed to be there

“Fail faster to succeed” one of those catchy quotes for entrepreneurs who don’t have a clue what it really means.

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you’ll find your prince, or princess for that matter” -probably some smart grandmother type comforting a forlorn granddaughter or grandson.

Be happy, it’s a choice!

Tio Stib Signature

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Jumping Off

leaning out the open door
time roars by
it’s gone
no more
I wonder what my life might be
had I the courage to jump free

behind me in the train’s cocoon
dreams fly off to distant moons
faces glued to heartless screens
joyless stares and silent screams

and so we travel every day
secure and safe or so we say
the child no longer comes to play
the status quo will have its way

will I stay an untold story
remain in hopeless purgatory
pretending that I care no more
soul crying for its need to soar

then I jumped off into space
the unknown flying in my face
It’s not clear where I will land
no matter
I am free again

Tio Stib Signature

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Growing Up or Why I Became a Writer

“Why do I need to grow up?” asked my nephew, in one of those rare moments when youth values age.

“Why do you ask?” I replied.

“Because adults are always telling me I need to grow up,” he answered earnestly.

Feeling his inquisitive eyes staring at me, I knew a simple answer would not suffice, especially since I’ve struggled with the same question for over fifty years.

I’ve tried to grow up, built boats and houses played architect,, took my shot at saving the world as a social worker, never quite made enough money as an entrepreneur, collected a surprising array of failed relationships but did manage to win a gold medal in speed diapering. I’ve learned I’m an inept ballroom dancer, that I like to eat good cooking but don’t have the patience to create it,that the wonders of Nature are an infinite source of inspiration, that death happens, and that the true riches of my life are the friends I’ve made and worked to keep along the way.

Although I treasure time with my family and friends, I’m quite introspective and often introverted. To borrow a line from Steve McQueen, “I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.: I must admit that after all the other “adult” careers I’ve tried, writing seems to suit me best. Writing is also a better fit for a blind guy than being a fly fishing guide. I’m not good at it yet, but I believe that by working at telling stories with solutions, sharing ideas that build a better world, I’ll perhaps make a positive difference with the life I’m blessed to live.

Writing is also wonderful as it gives me an acceptable adult excuse not to grow up. What else could I do where I can hang out in my imagination all day and people will just nod almost approvingly, and mutter, “don’t mind him, he’s a writer.”

“Tio!”

The voice snapped my attention back to the young boy waiting for the definitive answer to why he should grow up. There was a long pause.

“Growing up is not all it’s made out to be,” I finally replied, “I suggest you take as long as possible before getting seriously involved with adulthood.”

“I like it!” he said laughing and walked away.

My wife tells me I should be careful of what I say to children, they might believe me. She also pushes us to get out and enjoy life, to travel, go adventuring, and drink more wine with friends.

My wife is very smart and fun to live with, My kind of adult.

Be curious!

Tio Stib Signature

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Earthlings

I’ve been in a funk since we’ve moved to southern Mexico some weeks ago, adapting to a new culture and climate, trying to get my mind to work in a new world of heat and humidity. In the midst of this, I’ve been wondering how to move my writing process forward and concluded that in order to increase my writing authenticity I needed to increase my human consciousness. I needed to find ways to stretch my mind to greater openness.

As I probed this question, I discovered a blog post from a writer and poet I admire, Christy Bharath, who lives in southern India. Although I always find his blog, “Verse Herder,” eloquent, witty, and sumptuously detailed, this particular post jarred me. It references a documentary film, “Earthlings,” which explores human exploitation of other species. It was the door I was seeking.

This is a deep and challenging documentary, one which will provoke hidden sensibilities if allowed. It’s difficult. It’s not fun. But, for those who are willing to push themselves beyond the borders of comfort, it affords an essential understanding of the true connection between all forms of life on Planet earth.

Check it out.

I also recommend Christy’s blog, “Verse Herder” for inspiring and thought provoking accounts of his experiences with Nature.

Here’s the link to his blog “Verse Herder” .

Control Freaking

I live a funny fantasy
that I control how life will be
if only I pay constant mind
to details of my daily grind

I keep a list
of things to do
and push myself
to follow through
for if one thing
does not get done
I can’t pretend
I’m having fun

I do all this
to sideline stress
it seldom works
I must confess
and people?
they’re such a mess

for often, every day it seems
I find others don’t support my dreams
they ask that I give up my list
I fume
I pout,
I’m really pissed

so I sit and ponder here
do I give up this list so dear
what is it I really fear

if I stop controlling life
will this result in constant strife
if I slow to let love in
will pain clutch my heart again

the truth, of course
is sadly clear
this game that I hold so dear
simply masks
what I most fear
that love will hurt
if it gets near

tio stib, 2015

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Seekers

I pause
high above the world of human strife
to look about the mountain I call life
and in the air where breath is rare and clear
I notice other seekers venture near
A wave, a smile, a moment’s eye
and then their journeys pass me by
but in the silence that ensues
I find my heart has been renewed.

tio stib, 2015

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