Have you ever heard that you can be alone in a crowd? I heard that phrase and thought it was poetic sounding and meant to be discussed in a philosophy class. That can be true, but it can be a very literal saying that I have learned from personal experience. You can be alone with a hundred people around you.
A crowd does not mean you are connected. That is what it comes down to. Connections. A crowd is just people. They are bodies, many times with no interest in you.
Think of it this way. You are sitting at a family gathering. You are troubled about an issue at work or are having marital problems. It could be depression haunting you. Those around you have no idea about what is hurting you inside. You are alone because no one else can connect with you.
Being alone can be physical and emotional. Alone can be no one around or no one who can understand and connect to you. I’ve felt it way too often.
Hurt is familiar to all of us. Not everyone knows about it. Your pain eats at you, but no one else can see it. It’s like seeing a ghost no one else can. Those around you cannot understand your reaction nor your feelings. You are alone in a crowd.
Most of the time, people don’t want to discuss such issues. To expose our inner feelings, makes us more vulnerable. That is dangerous and uncomfortable to us. We want to avoid those feelings.
I have found that writing scenes that require a character to feel alone in a character can be enjoyable because I have been there and felt that way. An author writes the best scenes if they have experienced the characters’ feelings. The author can make the scene real.
I wrote a novel for my master’s thesis. It turned out to be a very emotional piece of writing as I put so many real events from my life in it. The Black Sheep is a story of a middle-aged woman facing the death of her mother. Not only does she have to deal with the intense feelings within her, she has to deal with family drama which everyone faces at one time or another. The emotions of her mother dying, tension with siblings, and the fear and questions of the past are all from me. That made the scenes harder to write and more real.
Being alone in a crowd is very real. Connection of emotions is what it means. We can’t do it with everyone. Don’t feel bad if you have these feelings. Admit them. You can deal with them better if you do.
This was a question I was given during some research recently. At first, it was an easy answer. Then I paused. Maybe it wasn’t so easy. It really got me to thinking.
What is a Good Life?
Everyone’s defintion of a good life is different. For some, it is making it big and leaving their mark on the world. For others, it is having a ton of money and not want for anything. Then there are those who only want to be happy.
Before the main question can really be answered, the understanding of what is a good life is important. For this piece which is my answer to the question, I think of the good life as having food on the table, a roof over my head, and the ability to work.
Food on the Table
Every human should be able to eat each day and not go to bed hungry. Inadequate diet can lead to health issues and a shorter lifespan. A good life is being able to have a full belly.
Roof Over My Head
I have been homeless for a short spell. It is not fun. You have to move around a lot to avoid getting in trouble. You can’t have many necessities in life because you have to be mobile.
Ability to Work
Not being able to work can deeply impact a person. It prevents them from paying for food and a roof over their heads. It also gives a person a sense of value. Work is good for us.
The Key is the “Chance” for a Good Life
Not everyone gets these three things. Some don’t want them for one reason or another. The key here is the chance for that good life. If they have the chance, then they have the choice which makes it more valuable to us.
I think everyone should have this chance presented to them. They should have the chance to have food to eat each day. This is important for survival. They should have the chance to have a roof over their head. They should have the chance to work. No one should be excluded from any of these.
The “Other” Good Life
To many the good life is having money and not worrying how to pay the bills. I completely agree that this is a good interpretation of the good life. I have food everyday. I have a roof over my head, and I have the ability to work. It would be a very good life to not have to worry about paying the bills. Do I have a chance for that? Yes. I just have to work harder and smarter. The chance is there for anyone to have a good life no matter what the reasonable definition is.
Ever have that feeling that the deck is stacked against you? Nothing seems to go right. Murphy’s Law is dictator. Trust me, I know this for a fact. If it can go wrong in my life, it typically does.
Yes, I know this sounds fatalistic. But I do feel that way at times. I had someone tell me that I exaggerated things. Well, they sat through an evening of my day and saw it first hand. I have the worst luck.
If it can go wrong, it typically does. That makes those few times things go right very precious. I just wish they came around a little more often.
Why do I use the term voodoo doll? Well, I began using that about 18 years ago when everything in our lives began to go wrong. My husband developed pneumonia. A few months later right before I gave birth to our last child, he ended up in the hospital for reasons doctors could not determine. Right after my daughter was born, I was told I might have cancer. Scared me to death as my father was already dying from that very unprejudiced disease. I had surgery that changed my life. It wasn’t cancer, but it was a lifelong issue I had to face. Dad died. My husband went into the hospital and discoverd that all his problems were symptoms of Chrons. He then lost his job due to being out sick too much. Credit fraud happened right after that. We moved in hopes of getting a fresh start. Medical problems only got worse as did our financial issues. Seemed we couldn’t trust anyone. Everyone went wrong year after year.
Each New Year, we toast that it will be better than the year before. Each year, we have to swallow those words. Things just don’t get better, no matter what we do. Oh, well.
Each New Year, I am determined to keep hope alive. You thought this was going to be an entirely depressing pieces, didn’t ya? I couldn’t let that happen. There has to be some fun in life.
Yep, the cards seem stacked against me, but I know how to play a few games such as poker. I will lose a few hands here and there. Okay, I will lose way more than I will win. But the important part is that I’m still in the game.
Bring it on!
No, I really didn’t mean that. Fates, just kidding.
Do you ever have those times when you just need to get away? Just going to the coffee shop won’t help. The stress of life is just minutes away, waiting to pounce on me. It’s not enough.
I need a vacation!!!!! From LIFE!!!!!
Think of all the stresses from life. They come in various forms, twenty-four seven.
Work – This stress takes up most of my days. I go to work and deal with idiots. Okay, not all are idiots, but I think there are a good number. I have to repeat myself over and over because a few people don’t know how to read their emails. Then there are the drama queens and those who try to throw you under the bus every chance they get. That’s not even touching on the lost shipments and computer issues. (I think I need an asprin now.)
Family – Oh, the family. How they make us want to jump off a cliff! They demand your attention and presence at every family event. And that doesn’t include the drama you are drawn into.
Kids – These buggers have to be fed and clothed. If they are older, they have to be at soccer practice or picked up when they are done with after school activities. That doesn’t include when you try to go to the bathroom and they come a knocking.
Husband – When does the husband not stress you out? There is the stress of having to watch that football game and then what is for supper.
House – Cleaning never seems to get done unless we do it ourselves. The magical world of Mickey Mouse doesn’t bring the mop to life when we leave the premises. The dishes can wait, but there comes a time that you need to have clean underwear.
Fun Stuff – Even what you do for fun can be stressful. I love to crochet. Now I’m learning to knit. That is soooo stressful. There are the interruptions from kid and husband as well as from life. Then there are the mistakes I am learning as I go. ARGH!
When can I fit in sanity? Nowhere.
There comes a time when you need to step away from it all. You need to get away from even your cell phone. That thing can drive a saint to cussing. Get away and let the brain relax. Give the nerves a chance to breath and not snap.
My husband gave me a slight one the other week. He dropped me off at Starbucks for 4 hours. That was so productive, but it wasn’t a real vacation. I need to sleep in for a few days straight. I need to not have a single person call my name. I need to be pampered and relaxed.
Maybe one day I’ll have that escape, that vacation from life. I can hope can’t I?
I recently visited where I was born in Kentucky. My family’s farm has been sold and the house removed. I hadn’t been there since it was sold three years earlier. For my own closure, I needed to go there.
It was hard to see the empty space where the house had been. I couldn’t stop the tears. I walked the area and pointed out where memories lived. It was a bittersweet moment.
Later that day at my sister’s, a spot on the back of my leg began to itch. A mosquito must have penetrated my jeans. In the middle of the night, I woke up, clawing at my leg. Dozens of spots were on my leg and itching to the point that I would gladly have made them bleed.
Over the next twenty-four hours, dozens more popped up. I had never had so many mosquito bites at one time. Then they got worse. More appeared. Nothing helped. They weren’t mosquito bites. They were chiggers buried in me!!!!
For days, I clawed at my skin. My entire left leg was covered. Then the right joined in. It moved up my body until all by my neck and head were covered in bites that bleed every day. I couldn’t stop scratching. During the night, I’d wake up clawing at them. My husband kept yelling at me to stop before any got infected. While he was right in doing so, I couldn’t stop it.
It’s been a couple of months now. The bites have stopped itches, but they left scars. Every time I look at any part of my body, I am reminded of the agony of that trip. I did not enjoy the trip as I should have all because of the misery. But I also see a lesson from it all.
There are times we can’t control our actions.
I’ve always been told that you can control how you react to things. To a degree, maybe. Yet our body and mind take over at times when we are unable to fight it. I couldn’t stop the itching. I couldn’t stop my nails from scratching while I slept. It was going to happen no matter what. These scars were destined to be a part of me.
I could lament them. I could think of all things I could have done differently. Aside from tying my hands while I slept the headboard, I was going to scratch myself. By choosing to get out of the car and walking my old home, I set in course something I could not change. Do I regret walking the homestead? No, I had to do it for saying goodbye to part of my past. That meant I had to exchange peace and smooth skin with closure.
How many people have to make exchanges like that and don’t even realize that? It gives me a different perspective I hope I can channel into my writing.
My daughter asked me a simple question the other day. It was very simple, yet I cannot shake my…answer.
The daughter who has been married for a couple of years asked, “Mom, if work gave you an opportunity to move to France for two years, would you go?” I work for a French owned company who send interns over to work in the States for a specified period of time. So in that aspect, it was a simple question.
Let’s start with the fact that I would never be asked to do that. I’m in not in a position in that company to ever be offerred that, but it still got me thinking. That was even more so after I quickly answered, “No!”
Catherine asked me, “Why not?”
“Well, there are things to consider like my house here, my husband, my….” That’s all I had. She pushed for more concrete answers, and I could not give her a single thing. I couldn’t even use my job as an excuse as it would have been my job sending me there. Therefore I would have income.
She hung up, and I kept hearing that question and my answer in my head. Shame swept over me. I gave a coward’s answer. I would be afraid to move to a different country and have to live in it for more than the time I would have spent if I had gone on vacation. Adventure would have awaited me, and I would have run from it.
I’m boring. It’s just a fact. I’m boring as watching sand fall through an hourglass. Telling anything about my life is blah. No one wants to know anything about me because there is nothing interesting. I read. I write. I work. I crochet. I’m learning to knit. Aren’t you excited to hear more? I’m not even interested.
I want to have my tombstone say, “She lived a hell of a life!” It won’t say that if I kicked the bucket today. I hang my head in shame.
I know why I’m like this. I was raised to be safe, to take the conservative route, to not take risks. My very upbringing prohibits me from enjoying life to its fullest. Only brother dared to break from that. He joined the Navy and has gone on adventures nearly every year of life even after leaving the Navy that took him throughout the Western hemisphere. Even though he moved back to within a few miles of where he had been born, he goes to places like Africa and experiences life. I’m so jealous of him. Note: I am jealous in a good way that only a sister who idolizes him can.
I want to do that. I want to live life. So I have decided to start a real bucket list. I’ll be fifty in a couple of years. My youngest is leaving home next year. I have the chance to live my life in a way like never before. I’m actually going to it.
I’ll share with you my list. I’ll share with you as I prepare for them and actually do them. World, watch out! Who knows what story ideas I’ll get from my adventures.
I’ve found a horrible secret that I’ve hid from myself. When I write an evil character, I find myself enjoying it. There! I said it! What a relief to that off my chest.
I hinted at this once and got the impression that I was horrible for feeling that way. Maybe they were right. But it feels so good when I’m in that character’s head.
Let me stop here and clear a few things up. I do not enjoy writing about deception, murder, or anything else horrific. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the challenge to be something I’m not and explore feelings that are taboo.
I discovered this when I wrote my first book, Deep Connections, which is published under my pen name of Shadow Steele. I had sections of my trilogy where I wrote from the point of the view of the evil character. I enjoyed describing this greed and desire for revenge. It wasn’t long before I found his sections were meatier than the others.
Then I wrote a story called Pure Obsession that will be coming out under another pen name before the end of the year. It is a very dark story told from two different POVs. One chapter would be from the female character. The next one would be from the male character who could be classified as the bad guy. When I wrote the chapters for Marcus, I had to be completely alone. My temper was short as I got into his mind and reflected his thoughts and feelings. I mentally became Marcus. But his sections were sooooooo good.
What does that say about me? Maybe I just freed a part of me that had been locked up. Maybe I opened up an exciting new creative world that had yet been untapped by me. It was a challenge for me and one that continues to challenge me.
I’m playing around with the idea of writing a story just from the evil guy’s perspective. Not sure who or the premise, but it’s bouncing around in my head.
What are your thoughts? Got an idea for a story I can play around with?
I recently went to my 30th high school reunion. Reality hit me hard as I watched the group gathered. Things had not really changed. I still hated high school.
Now, I’m not saying I didn’t like anyone there. You have to understand where I’m coming from.
When I was in high school, I was the extremely introverted nerd. I did not hang out with the popular kids mainly because I was not a party person. I preferred my books. In fact, most others made fun of me because i was so straight-laced. A guy talked to me, and I would blush brightly. I was mocked for attending church regularly. Once at a dance, I overheard my classmates mocking me. It only made me want to hide even more.
Since those days, I’ve opened up a lot. Yet I’m still a scared little girl inside. Large crowds have me in a panic because I just know they are talking about me and condemn how I look and how I act. I just want to cry when I’m around people even if I have known them for years. At that reunion, it all surfaced again a million times.
I felt so out of place. I hadn’t seen any of these people in thirty years. I wasn’t close to them then. I wasn’t close to them now. Few ever interacted with me online where we were connected. They knew nothing about me. Few cared. They walked right by and didn’t say a word.
In many ways, I’m a different person than I was in high school. Yet I’m still the same. Once again, I was alone in the sea of people. I didn’t fit in.
I’m glad I’ve moved on. Not many people want to relive high school. I now remember that. Lessons were learned, but my life is in the here and now.
Teenagers can be very dramatic. I mean VERY! Trust me when I say this. I’ve had three. The drama puts TV shows to shame.
It never fails for my seventeen year old daughter to daily give me a run down on the drama in her teenage group. I know who is dating who, who broke up with who, and who did something royally stupid.
I have to admit here that there are times I just want to scream. I get sick of hearing about it all especially since I know most of the drama will be forgotten in a few hours by all involved. Over time, I began to notice ideas taking root in my mind as the drama swirled around me.
After I had dropped the kids off at the coffee shop, I thought on what had been said. What if this happened? What if that happened? Stories begin to form in my mind.
What just happened? Teenage drama penetrated my writing sphere! Yep, I’ve been invaded by the dark side.
I have a young adult story started due to my daughter and her friends talking about a girl asking a guy out to a dance and to only be turned down by the jerk. That was their word for him, not mine.
There are stories present in all that drama. I just have to sift through the ultra-drama, or at least some of it. Even that kind of over the top can be inspiration for me as a writer.
Maybe the pain and suffering of that drama will pay off.