Why do we hide?

Our backyard neighbor’s truck had not been in its usual place for a few weeks. My wife and I wondered about what might be going on with this man we never met over the nearly four years we’ve lived here. Our curiosity was cut off by our bout with COVID.

As my wife’s recovery progressed, she checked the neighborhood directory to determine our neighbor’s name. Who was this man that was hermit-like and never returned a greeting wave? With his name, she then checked the obituaries. There he was.

He died at the age of 78. His obituary read like a Texas tale that included cowboying, running an oil company that his dad started, and a reference or two about personality traits that some people might find abrasive but others would see as elements of a character developed in a life fully lived. Count me in the latter group. I regret not having had at least a chance to speak with him.

I wonder if he felt that he was missing something by staying in his home.  The only times that I saw him were when he took garbage or recycling to the curb. I had more chat time with a man who cut the neighbor’s yard than with the man who lived there.

I’m a solitary guy by nature, so I think I understand some of what might have motivated the neighbor. I’ll never know since he and I never had a chance to chat and share, and the time for sharing is now gone.

And that’s the point. Share.  I wouldn’t recommend telling your complete life story to someone who says “hi” at the grocery store line, but there are myriad ways to say hello. Some comments will start conversations; some comments will start a monologue by the other person, in which case…listen. I have learned much about life and people (and myself) by listening instead of talking. There is a lot of wisdom and entertainment in the stories of others.  I don’t believe that everyone who is cloistered in some way or another intends to stay that way, nor are those who seem to be extraordinarily connected and social truly so. Converse with someone today. Every day.

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