THE BLOG
08/31/2015 06:51 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2016

Learning To Live Alone Without Getting Bugs In Your Eyes

Today I had a day off with nothing planned, which actually made me feel a little uncomfortable. I generally like to have a list to check off in order to feel productive, but nothing I had to do was screaming out as urgent. Thus, I felt no urge to do any of it, so I didn't.

Sitting with myself, and no to-do list, was strange. I had no itinerary. No appointments, errands, or crucial chores. As I sat there contemplating my options of how best to fill this free time (that I thought I was longing for), I felt at a bit of a loss. There I was, face to face with a reality I had been keeping too busy to notice; or simply had been choosing to avoid. Change was staring at me head on.

Yes, the dust of change was settling around me. My kids were out of the nest and on their own. Friends working, married -- (or both) -- were busy being busy in their own worlds.

Pity party for one, no gifts please.

We all, at times, feel the weightiness of our thoughts, fears and concerns falling squarely on our shoulders. This was one of those times.

So what, you may be wondering, does this have to do with getting 'bugs in your eyes?'... hang in there with me for a minute, I promise I'm getting to it...

Going through life's changes later in life can be challenging to say the least. Empty nesting, having no nest, building a new nest, having no one with whom to share the nest, sharing a nest with someone we really don't want to share it with, job changes, job loss, loss of loved ones, loss of muscle tissue, soft tissue getting softer, memory getting shorter, arms getting longer from trying to read a menu, being longer in the teeth from brushing too damn well; to name a few.

As I was contemplating all these wondrous joys of later life, unable to see the potential blooming forest through the trees of doom and gloom, I was saved by the marimba chimes of my iPhone. A dear friend from high school was calling to see how I was doing. In hindsight, she was the life preserver the Universe was throwing me from the Starship Enterprise.

As a result of our conversation, she was inspired to suggest that I watch a show called Playing House, on USA Network/On Demand. She thought I would not only want a role on the show, but that I'd appreciate the writing and also get a good laugh, which she instinctively felt I needed. She then gave me instructions to text her to let her know how much I loved it. Finally, something to check off on my list for the day.

I sat down with some chocolate chip cookie dough courtesy of Nestles, and started binge snacking and binge watching for hours ... and hours. I was vicariously enjoying watching two best girlfriends move in together having a blast, even though it was because the pregnant one found her husband cheating with a naked woman live on the Internet. So, the two BFs were going to birth and care for this baby together as a family.

My dear friend was right, I was loving the show and laughing; but through the funny was an underlying sadness for me. I started thinking about how in real life many of us are becoming more and more isolated from those we care about. We've become so focused on our success or our busy-ness, that we are losing touch with what is most important in our lives: our relationships with the people we care about and love.

Taking it a step further, because I had plenty of time to do so, I thought that not only are so many of us too busy chasing our tails to notice what we're missing, but we're also becoming so damn self-sufficient, that relationships are becoming collateral damage.

In one of the episodes after the baby had been born, the mom challenged a biker to a game of pool while holding her newborn in a sling, saying that she could do everything by herself and didn't need any help.

He looked closely at her and said, "You've got bugs in your eyes." She tilted her head looking confused, and he continued saying, "You see, skeleton riders, we've got this saying ... You've got bugs in your eyes ...what it means is this...

You can't always be the lead hog. When we ride, we ride in formation. We trade out the lead, because if you stay in the front of the pack for too long, you get bugs in your eyes ... You need to let other people help you. It doesn't make you any less of a rider ..."

Brilliant. Not only is it okay to rely on others, it's imperative -- for us as individuals and as a community.

"We're not meant to go through life alone." That was one of the things my Grandma used to say. She was right. We recently lost her at the age of 103. I miss her a lot.

I know my Grandma didn't mean that having 200 friends on Facebook would suffice. While that certainly has its place, virtual contact is not the same. So when you're up for this or down with that, when you have too much time or not enough, when you think of someone you haven't spoken to in a while, or you just simply need some human contact ... call a friend, feed a lover, hug a child, listen to an aging parent, help a stranger, or give someone the gift of helping you. It truly does take a village.

Do you have bugs in your eyes?

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