The Up Side of Down, Making Light of Loneliness

Lately, I’ve noticed many lonely souls hanging out in sad solitude. The single seaters at Starbucks poking at their computers or pretending to read the newspaper, the odd person eating alone at restaurants, the commuter train filled with folks entranced by their mini-video screens with nary a glance at fellow travelers. It’s easy to spot the single folks, especially if you are, like me, one of them. Which makes writing this post so easy.

Let me put a different spin on loneliness and offer its advantages:

1. Living alone means making the bed is optional rather than submit to the control freak compulsions of a significant other.

2. Bing 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 Toasty 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…

from Tio Stib’s archives, the empty times before he met his wonderful wife. No, it wasn’t at Starbucks.

 

Commitment

Commitment, like love, is a verb.” Commitment does not exist without action.

I offer the following thoughts on “Commitment,” as much to re-inspire myself as to inspire you-

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

-W.H. Murray, Scottish Himalyan Expedition, 1951

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe?

GO FOR IT!

tio stib
2015, 2018

You might also enjoy: Breaking Trail, If

“Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson

I often return to Marianne Williamson’s thoughts on fear when feeling small and lost. Her words never fail to spark the light of hope within me.

tio stib

“Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are born to manifest the glory that is within us. It is not within some of us, it is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates.” others.”

-Marianne Williamson, “A Return to Love, Reflections on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles’”

Dirty Snow

Dirty Snow
there are days
sometimes weeks or more
when my spirit knows
that the purity of newness
the first flakes of snow
have been trampled
discolored
covered in ash and fallen smog
and life
my daily exercise
becomes a journey
of hope and expectation
waiting for the magic moment
when sun reveals
a patch of sparkling green
from beneath
dirty snow

tio stib
2015, 2018

You might also enjoy: Weather Systems of the Mind, Seattle Sun

Breaking Trail

in winter stillness
ancient aspens watch
a chickadee flitting past
feathered music
bouncing
over infinite blue

alone
atop the buried meadow
a man paused
turned
looked back at the trampled snow
the trail of footsteps
each print a shadowed testament
to sweat falling from his brow

all he could see was white
reflected memories in a sea of snow
light’s harsh truth
stinging weary eyes

a deep sigh
a gasp of icy air
a hesitation in the heartbeat of being

a smile

he chooses life

again

tio stib

2016, 2018

You might also enjoy, If, Invictus

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

You might also enjoy: Seattle Sun, Soulmates at Starbucks

Blind Blessings

No, when I first lost my sight, I didn’t consider my new condition to be a blessing. Rather, I fell into a deep depression, which I only escaped with the aid of loving family and friends. I needed help and was quite fortunate to eventually connect with the resources that enabled me to become functional again and resume my writing path.

If I may offer some advice, should you find yourself suddenly without sight or visually impaired, ask for help. If you get suicidal, call a suicide hotline. Losing one’s sight is tragic and traumatic, and if you find yourself or someone you care for in this situation, quickly reach out for assistance.

Ironically, I could not have picked a better time to go blind. We are in the midst of the “Golden Age” of assistive technology. One month after I was introduced to computer screen readers, I was communicating with email, researching on the internet, and writing again. Given the dark times I’d ben through, this assistive technology transformation was a miracle.

In the United States, there are many wonderful programs assisting the blind and visually impaired. Here are a few that have helped me-

Blind Services, California Department of Social Services. This program provided evaluation and training, including how to use assistive computer technologies. I think most states have similar programs. They even paid for my new computer and sent a blind guy to my home to train me in how to use it.

http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG83.htm

Lions’ Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This program teaches basic skills required for blind and visually impaired persons to function in daily life.

http://www.lbcenter.org/

Lighthouse for the Blind, San Francisco. This is another great resource that provides access and training for assistive technologies. Similar programs are offered in many other cities.

http://lighthouse-sf.org/about/contact-us/

Here’s my plug for Apple.

A screen reader application provides a voice that reads what is on a computer or cell phone screen. Although Windows computers offer various screen reader applications, Apple provides VoiceOver, its screen reader application, as a basic part of its operating system. This is great because whatever Apple device I buy includes VoiceOver, no need to add any other screen reader. An extra bonus, is that Apple has Siri, a voice activated program that allows me, for instance, to create and send an email with voice commands. My fingers never have to type a thing.

No,VoiceOver is not a perfect system, but it works well most of the time. To their credit, Apple keeps improving VoiceOver and voice activated functionality. With VoiceOver you can pick language and even voice character types, from staid English Alex to almost sexy Swedish Sonya.

http://www.apple.com/accessibility/osx/voiceover/

One more thing, something that has turned out to be a real blessing for the writer I’m working to be. The U.S. National Library Service has a program called B.A.R.D., which means Blind and Audio Reader Download. This is a fantastic and free new application for smart phones. With this app I can download thousands of audio books in the NLS system. This has become my secret writer’s sanctuary, a place I can go and listen to the great writing works. Currently, I’m listening my way through the Pulitzer Prize winning books of the last 100 years.

You need to first register with your state blind services agency to gain access to NLS and B.A.R.D.. Once you do, a whole new world is yours to explore.

https://nlsbard.loc.gov/login//NLS

Okay, by now you’ve realized that I found my way out of depression’s grip with a lot of help, and, yes, I’ve even found that blindness has been a blessing to me.

How?

First, losing my sight has forced me to be more humble. I can’t get through a day without asking for help. For a guy who was extremely self-reliant, this was a difficult change to make. However, I now recognize that there is a time to love and a time to let love in.

Perhaps my biggest blessing from blindness is that I’ve been forced to learn how to listen, to be acutely aware of the sounds around me and the feelings behind the words I hear. It has been said that the first rule of love is to listen. Blindness has given me a new path to love bigger.

And, I’m back to writing again. Here are some popular posts you might enjoy-

Gee, I Haven’t Been Suicidal for Months
Blind, But Now I Hear
Blind Man’s Bluff
Why I Like Being Blind

Again, if you or a someone close to you is dealing with the challenges of blindness or visual impairment, reach out for help. If I can be of any assistance, please contact me at tiostib@gmail.com.

There is Hope! Never give up!

Tio Stib Signature