If you are a “wise” guy you can look back on your life to see where you have been and to learn lessons from past successes and especially the mistakes. This is one of those posts. I don’t think I am your typical senior citizen if someone like that even exists. I have been kind of a misfit at many times in my life. For one thing I am a pretty liberal guy where most “old people” I come across these days seem to be of a very conservative slant. As kids we are always asking “why”, why this, why that. Most of us outgrow the questions, I never did.
Growing up with only a very stoic father and a younger brother I was just never around women much. So, well into adulthood I was a pretty shy guy around the opposite sex. Since I didn’t understand them it was hard to open myself up to them. They were a mystery to me. For that reason, I was almost forty years old before marrying for the first, and I’m pretty sure only time in my life.
Given all the above I used to live by the mantra “I am a rock, I am an island” philosophy. I’m sure some of you guys know where this phrase came from. It was the title of a Simon and Garfunkel song of the 1960s and one of my favorite ones. Here are some of the lyrics…
I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.
I built walls around myself even in my early years that I imagined none could penetrate. Love was something that wasn’t obvious in the Walters clan. Mom was almost totally focused on herself, dad never said he loved me until very near the end of his life. I tried to think of myself as a rock who felt no pain, as an island onto myself. Because of this I let many of life’s opportunities pass me by. I just didn’t know how to handle them. It would be years before I myself would say the four letter word to anyone. I just didn’t think it was within me…
Enough of this melancholy, let’s end it with good news. I did eventually break the hold of this rock mentality and my life is so much better than it was before. But I still find myself humming the tune of “I Am a Rock”….
2 thoughts on “I Am A Rock, I Am An Island…”
Interesting post. I saw hints of me in there.
I’m one of those rock/island guys as well, but I must say that it sounds like you’ve done a much better job of re-branding yourself than I have. I’ve got walls that would be the envy of the Night’s Watch, I’ve got the laundry list of missed opportunities you allude to. I’ve also always been reluctant to risk opening up to women, and certainly haven’t been rewarded when I felt brave enough to do so. Now, later in life, I carry with me that never-married stink that enters a room 5 minutes before I do (the ladies love that smell, BTW).
As an aging rock/island type, I eat my lunch alone, I walk alone, I watch movies alone, i listen to music alone, I shop alone, I laugh alone, I cry alone (wait just a darn minute, islands never cry), I get sick alone and I get well alone, and sometimes, when I feel like celebrating life, I drink too much Guinness alone (that part I’m okay with).
This all sounds very gloomy, but I’m really not despondent over my situation, since it’s basically all I’ve known since my incredibly awkward, invisible-to-girls teen years. Yes, I sometimes feel isolated and lonely, but at least I haven’t spent the last decade making monthly payments to an ex-wife like one of the guys I work with. Now THERE is a reason to be melancholy.
AND, I do have Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, so there’s that.
Hi Boxer and thanks for the heartfelt comments. As I said I was forty before I married so I definitely can understand your life at least to an extent. Being a rock/island is not without its benefits as you say. I love the saying “If a man says something and a woman is not around is he still wrong?” It says a lot about most male/female relationships. I do get tired, even after almost 30 years of marriage of being told I am wrong about this or that. Eating alone is not so bad, at least you can choose what you want and when you want to eat. Being alone and being lonely are often two different things… but the grass is always greener isn’t it?