The Sheep have been having a conversation lately. This is news, because we’ve all scattered or, at least I have scattered. Sheep M bleated a call to return, and began an e mail conversation which eventually led me to observe that we’re just—each of us—on our own.
Careful, now. I have a tendency toward the bitter because of my recent marital woes. One of the things I have realized—and railed against—is that I am on my own. And, I repeat, that is true of us each and all.
Alone except, of course, for God…but I’m still mulling that one over, and that’s another post.
The sign in the picture (if you can’t read it) says “Life’s Highway.” That’s what the sheep is on—alone. Others can watch, but they can’t travel it.
Sheep M struggled with my saying this. She has been through similar trials a little ahead of me and assured me that the initial period of separation is, indeed, fraught with loneliness, but that it passes. She added that now she is happier than ever, surrounded by loved ones. No longer lonely.
She misunderstood. Do not confuse what I am saying with “loneliness.” In fact, I am not lonely. I, too, have supportive family and friends and am thankful for them all. What I mean is this: That, in the end, only I can make the decisions for my own life and only I will live with them. Only I can feel my own pain, only I know what reaction helps or exacerbates it. No one, not even those closest to me, can step inside my skin—or even my shoes—and know my problems, their solutions.
I don’t think this is deniable. Just think about the basics: stump your toe and your friend says, “Oooooo, that hurt!” Well, she may know that it hurt her when she last did it, or she may imagine that it hurts, never having experienced a toe-stumping, but she does not know, really, how badly this time hurt you or, indeed, if it did. President Bill Clinton’s famous, “I feel your pain,” was just so much rhetoric.
I did not always feel so. I once felt like a part of a “marital team,” feeling for all the world like whatever came to us, we would face it together. Ooops!
Husband grew to feel differently, and he never shared that he did until he walked out the door. No one else in the family had a clue of the betrayal scheme; he was alone in it—well, except maybe for his girlfriend. But the point is, that you never know what’s in another person’s heart; we are stand-alone units.
I confess that I worry about myself sometimes; am I hard-hearted? I thought about the pain in Haiti and in Chile from the earthquakes, to be sure. I watched in horror, like you probably did, and I gave money to help. But, I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and confess to you that none of that horrific tragedy kept me awake at night. Did it you? Am I just a heartless wretch?
I’ve though it over and realized that I really can’t feel their pain. And I don’t think I’m meant to do so to much more degree than I do. I think of the character, “May” in Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, The Secret Life of Bees. May had the torment of being able to feel the pain of others-including strangers-to a much greater degree than do most. And, in the end, it was her undoing. We just can’t do it. The load is too great for our spindly legs.
And so, how does the flock fit into this stand-alone world? Good question, for it surely does, and we are surely meant to be flock creatures, not alone. Too many wolves outside the flock. If you look you can see the eyes of the wolves of depression and despair in the darkness outside the cote.
I’ll get back to you more on that flock thing…in the meantime, what do you think? You, alone, know—until you share. C