I recently shared this in the newsletter Crooked Fences. It quickly generated comments of understanding so here it is for you blog readers.
So much of who rural people are is wrapped up in being naturally alone, yet we may struggle to avoid loneliness at the same time. I need one but I don't want to feel the other. I am comfortable alone, I am uncomfortable in the company of most people.
Friends are incredulous that I can be happy by myself, in the middle of nowhere, no neighbours to see, no cell phone. That I have never sent a text message by phone or been under siege by a constant barrage of the same. That this isn't a holiday that will end next week, it is my way of life. Am I not lonely, they ask.
I wonder if they are confusing being alone with being lonely. If they do not understand the comfort of time alone or the difference between it and loneliness.
Yes, I get lonely but spending time alone is not what makes me lonely - time alone keeps me whole. Not inviting people into my rural life is what makes me lonely. Believing no one else would be interested in a sheep ranching way of life makes me lonely.
I am chewing on this topic because in the last month, people have been here more often than happens over the course of an entire year. People are here to learn about grass sheep ranching, to work dogs, to help build sheep pens, to bask in a brief slice of their own alone time in the country. I am amazed by it. I have not left the place for more than half a day, nor gone on any holiday, and yet this has been one of my most amazing summers; full of growth and self learning.
It has shed light on my people skills or lack thereof. I notice that clearly communicating with people is an effort and if you spend the majority of your time alone you lose this skill. With people gathering there has been teaching, sharing, ideas, risk, acceptance, encouragement and discouragement.
The inclusion of people is another way to share our gift of such a seemingly simple lifestyle on the farm. It is stretching me in many ways. I'm thinking that it is prepping me for the next part of the journey on this place.