I have never been good in big groups. I hate parties where everyone is blabbing on and I have to choose between struggling to make my voice heard, and being the weird quiet one.The only way I can put up with that is if I’m very drunk. Then I can start blabbing just like the rest and not worry about anything. Since I’ve pretty much given up drinking now, I no longer have that solace.
Thoreau famously said that most men spend their lives in quiet desperation. What makes this state of affairs so horrifying is not the fact that it involves desperation, since many people with worthwhile lives have experienced desperation. It is the quietness that is soul-wrenching. Being desperate and not even trying to change it. Sitting at your desk for most of your life and doing exactly as you have been told. Having no independence, no liberty, and no originality to anything that you do. No one really sees you and when you die, you may as well not have existed. Like dust in the wind.
So we are desperate to be noticed, and to stand out. Like ants, we need each other to survive, but unlike ants, we can’t bear the thought of our own smallness and insignificance, the feeling of being nothing but a cog in a huge system, our biggest achievement but a tiny tear in the fabric of life. We want to make our voices heard.
But there are more ways of being heard than being the loudest one in the party. I’m not good with big groups but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be heard. So I write. This way there are no interruptions and no one asks me to speak up. I get to think before committing anything down, and I get to think before I respond. There is no mindless babble surrounding me everywhere around. I don’t have to read a billion body language messages and discuss the weather.
Perhaps one of these days I am going to find that instead of quiet desperation, my life will be full of quiet joy. As far as I’m concerned, that is the best kind.