Sunday, August 21, 2011

Loneliness at AROHO

My goal before leaving for AROHO was to make connections, forge relationships. AROHO is big on Serendipity, which I interpreted as I am going to make such good friends.

So of course the first three days of the conference I was disappointed. I wasn’t meeting anybody. I kept seeing women sitting around lunch tables laughing and having such animated talks. At dinner more of the same, though they lingered longer. I imagined they were working out the mysteries of life—or if not that then unraveling the secrets of the universe.

I’ve always had the misfortune of entering dining halls and becoming paralyzed. I never know where to set my tray—thus I find either an empty table or the seat furthest away, perhaps sending the signal that I want to be left alone—or, hell, I’m not sure people even think about signals. More likely they just want to eat.

So with this dining hall affliction, the problem of over-thinking where to sit mixed with fears of rejection and knowing I am utterly ruining the AROHO magic by trying to plan serendipity, I missed out the first three days.

Thus, I spent time alone, where I was forced to see this stupid facet of myself and question my reason for existing. Extreme, I know, but I tend to mentally walk off cliffs.

Then by Saturday, the last day I started to think about the idea that it’s okay to choose the furthest seat or even to be alone. That in sitting and contemplating the Pedernal (Georgia’s mountain, http://www.art.com/products/p10091798-sa-i1288530/georgia-okeeffe-pedernal-1942.htm), I’ve been given a great gift. Maybe in fact others are sitting at their tables wishing like me, wishing they had more serendipity.

So in this way we have been in synch. I love this thought—and the potential for community.

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