I told my mom this morning that having the week off, you’d think I’d come up with some sort of project around the house to preoccupy myself with, but “I don’t like doing projects alone.”
That made me stop and think.
It’s true. Oh, I can organize something alone, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as I do when someone else is with me. I can paint a wall alone, but it’s more fun if a friend helps out. It has nothing to do with less work spread between two people and everything to do with kinship. Spending time together. Talking. Sharing.
Aren’t we all that way? Isn’t it more fun to see a movie with a friend than to go alone? Doesn’t it motivate you more to exercise if you’re doing it with someone? I hear all the time how people “enjoy” their “spin class,” or “karate class,” or “exercise class.” I’m willing to bet it’s not the class itself that they enjoy so much as the time spent with other people doing the same thing. It gives a sense of unity, a shared appreciation and/or experience, a similar goal. Usually, it’s not about the what, it’s about the who.
Much as I enjoy watching the shows I do, I always feel an intense pang of loneliness at the end of the hour, because I have no one to share them with, no one to talk about them with, no one to identify with my viewing experience. Talking about them later isn’t even the same as living in the moment; that first flush of excitement fades and leaves me wondering what there is to discuss. I want to share each moment together, to share the angst or the happiness, to react at the same time, to feel that connection to another person that only comes from being next to them.
One of our deepest desires is to connect with others, no matter how independent or introverted we are; deep down, we all want shared experiences. We want them to be there, in that moment, at our side, as tangible, literal human contact. That’s natural. It’s what God intended. Frodo needed Sam to make it to Mount Doom; he couldn’t have done it on his own. Yet so many of us are trying to do it alone, trying to rely only on online relationships to satisfy our aching desire for human contact, only to wonder why we’re so unhappy. As wonderful as an online-only friend can be, your heart is still going to want human contact. You need it in order to be emotionally satisfied.
Maybe we can do life alone, but is that what’s best for us?