October 17, 2010

Broken and low

Saw an interesting film this evening up at the old Shepherdstown Opera House--  Get Low, with the always witty Bill Murray, and Robert Duvall at his curmudgeonly best playing a backwoods hermit named Felix Bush.  After 40 years of isolation, Felix determines that it's time to "get low" and sets out to arrange his own funeral, but with a twist.  Assisted by the town funeral home director (Murray), he plans a pre-death shindig to which he invites everyone within four counties who has a story, real or gossip-fueled, to tell about him.  As it turns out, though, the story to be told is his own-- the explanation for his self-exile.  There are some laugh out loud moments (with Murray and Duvall, how could there not be), yet in the end the film left me shaken.  I managed to hold back the tears until I got into the car, but they flowed freely as I drove out of Shep'town and into the moonlit backroads of West Va.

The thing that got to me was that I saw myself in Felix, though my story has none of the drama of his.  And, obviously, I'm nowhere near as isolated in location-- I live in the midst of the suburbs, go to work in a major metropolitan city, and get out every chance I can to do my favorite things in my favorite places.  Yet, in many ways, I'm as imprisoned as Felix.  Life has become a perpetual loop of solitude and routine. 

Since reaching adulthood, I've spent more years alone than I have in relationships, and friendships have been just as sparse.  Much as I've tried to dismantle it in recent years, there's some sort of wall between me and the rest of society that I just can't overcome.  I feel like I'm in the world, but not a part of it. Everyone-- family, friends, and acquaintances alike-- is held at arm's length for some reason I can't make out.

What I don't understand about this is that I'm not a complete misfit.  Introverted, yes, but I do have the ability to connect with people.  I just can't seem to deepen and sustain those connections.  I can connect with faraway people via the internet in the blink of an eye but, like every physical friendship I've ever had, those connections end up fading as my interests change and I migrate to other areas of the web.  Even now, I'm in a transitional phase in which I can feel certain connections seeming to dissolve as I develop new ones relating to newer obsessions.  I've lived in the same area my entire life, but when it comes to people I'm decidedly nomadic.  Why?

Most of the time this doesn't bother me.  I've written before about how often I'm more content by myself.  But then something like this movie will come along and hit me in the gut and get me wondering--  what the hell is wrong with me?  Why is it so hard to find people within close proximity with whom I can connect, and why can't I make it last when I do?  Am I broken in some way?  In moments like this, I'm just so fucking tired of being alone.

Coupled with this is a frustrating inability to decide what the hell to do with my life.  The routine is to go to work at a job that I'm thankful to have but that's shrinking my brain, come home and explore the web, then spend days off out and about doing familiar things in familiar places because they bring me comfort from the increasing stagnation.  Of course it's entirely possible to break out of this--  Go back to school, challenge myself in a new line of work, move to a new area... if I could just make up my damned mind as to what, where, and how.  I've lots of interests but no single overriding passion to compel me in a new direction.  And, at my age, dramatic life changes are challenging enough even when you have a plan and course of action.  The result is that I remain flummoxed and stuck in this prison of my own making.  So I turn to the internet and whine, whine, whine...

I've no idea what this song has to do with any of the drivel I've babbled here, aside from the fact that I set it on repeat and listened to it over and over and over on the drive home through the dark from West Va.  Somehow, it seemed to fit the mood--


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

i have not seen the movie or even heard of it before this but now i want to.

at my age, i'm feeling many of the things you write about. i believe i am either having a mid life crises or finally finding myself. i can't decide which.

i have been married for over 30 yrs now and he is my best friend thankfully. but i have a few other girlfriends that i am having a harder and harder time connecting with. our lives and tastes change i guess. i feel it's def me though. i'm less tolerant of stupidity and also i don't want being a grandmother to be the main focus of my life. i feel i now have freedom to do so much more than babysit. in many ways i feel like a teenager again in that i have no direction.

sorry for rambling here but it's your fault b/c you got me thinking.

~janet

Stargazerleo said...

That movie played at the Colonial but I haven't been able to get there in a while. Regarding the rest, first of all I want to say you won't be rid of me that easy! Secondly, I don't think anything is wrong with the way you live your life. It may not be conventional for our society, but I know you don't want that. I envy you for not taking that route. Making big changes like you're talking about take time. Maybe its not really time yet, you'll know when it is, and then there will be no turning back :)

Groover said...

You are definitely not alone or the only one feeling this way.

I don't know whether this will help you in any way but I think the real difference between introvert and extrovert is how we recharge our batteries. I'm an introvert, too, and get energised from being alone, having time to myself to think, digest, just be me. Extroverts recharge when being around others.

We all need to recharge our batteries but there seems to be the general social assumption that wanting to be alone is somehow wrong. It's not! It's just the way your system recharges.

As for the real life interactions: I make an effort to have meaningful and satisfying relationships but it takes effort because everybody is so freaking busy all the time and in the end I find myself often bored, impatient, opinionated and restless to get back into "my world" ... I guess not the qualities of a *bestie*. LOL

Story teller said...

I will certainly watch the movie.

Angelina S. said...

Oh dear...I see so much of myself in this post. Unfortunately I have no advice, or even any words of comfort. I'm in almost the exact situation myself and I have no idea how to overcome it. I NEED my alone time. Too much socializing physically wears me out. But I long for one or two good friends to be in close proximity to me. I have made some great friends on the internet, and have sustained a few of the relationships over the years. But actually getting together happens so infrequently that it's almost painful.

I also don't really know what I want to do with my life and I don't have any overwhelming passion that I must pursue or any great talent that I feel I must foster. What to do, what to do...

BAH. Now I have to go listen to some happy music.

KaliDurga said...

To everyone who commented-- Thank you.