'Koi mila tho haath milayaa kahin gaye do baatein ki
Ghar se baahar jab bhi nikalaa din bhar bhoj uthaayaa hai'
Last year, when we were on our trek around the Sahayadri ranges we stayed one night at a huge gufaa. When we explored around in the light of candles we realized that the cave already had an occupant; an old happy looking Baba who was rather nice about the invasion of his privacy. He brought us extra light and guided us around the cave. When we retired it was calming to know that he slept in the chamber next to ours.
I wondered about him as we said goodbye the next day. Just things like, how did he come to live in such queer isolation? does it really suit him so well as to give him that wonderful aura of contentment? What does he do for food? Does he ever get lonely? Were a bunch of high spirited holiday makers a welcome change or an unavoidable irritation to be borne? Or neither?
I remember I felt a pang of envy.
And I know that was pure rubbish. I know for a fact that I would be driven raving mad inside a month with such an existence. So why the inappropriate envy? But we will crave the things we don’t really want…
But today out of the blue I have been thinking about him. Well of course there was a trigger, there always is.
Most people cannot avoid people (I mean large numbers of them) for the first quarter of their lives. But later if they choose carefully and work very hard towards it they can manage an existence of minimal contact. When I started down this path, I had not thought about it in those terms, but this is the kind of life I seem to have achieved and for the large part I am content with it.
But sometimes I take a fancy for certain activities that are necessarily social. And I think to myself, it's only people! How bad can it be? I am reminded every time.
Nothing depletes me a much as boredom. And nothing is as boring as having to present my social face to a group of people who will only give me theirs. And this kind of boredom is far worse than the kind that is associated with standing in the snake-queues of a reservation office or waiting out two-hours in a dentist’s anteroom. In those situations your mind is entirely free to wander and entertain itself. But if you are an adult and cooped with a bunch of other adults determined to be social you find yourself in a stressful situation where a wandering mind will be construed as a sign of great rudeness or worse shyness; which will only attract even more well-intentioned and resolutely surface attention.
Today I voluntarily inflicted upon myself such a situation. I came back so exhausted that I have uttered less than half a dozen sentences to my bemused family. I write this for therapy.
I admit I sound like a very poor sort of creature even to my own ears and I suspect I have indulged myself far too much over the years.
But I find it impossible to handle groups of people.
My mechanical smiles hurt my cheekbones.
The social glitter off so many polished surfaces hurts my eye.
The always palpable insecurities of people in groups hurt my nerves.
Restraining the desire to escape hurts my muscles.
Please give me people, I know I need them. But one at a time please.