A few years ago, I watched a heartrending documentary about a woman in England who had been dead for two years before her body was discovered. The woman, Joyce Vincent, was an up-and-coming type of woman, popular with her friends and on the fast track to a promising career. After a bad relationship, she found herself in a domestic abuse shelter, leaving her fast-track career to become a hotel cleaner. I think it’s understandable that during this time, she faded out of the lives of the people who loved her: ex-fiance, friends, siblings…When she was discovered in 2006, over two years after her death, her body was found amidst Christmas presents she had wrapped for unknown recipients. This woman died surrounded by neighbors, yet utterly alone.
Last night, I watched a movie called, “Into the Wild” about a young man named Christopher McCandless. He graduated from a prestigious university with several thousand dollars in the bank. Soon after graduating, he donated his thousands to charity and began his trek across America, ultimately fulfilling his dream to land in Alaska. He was not properly equipped to live off the Alaskan land and although he had found an abandoned bus to shelter in, he died about three months later of starvation. The movie portrays McCandless as smiling and gazing out the bus window into the beautiful Alaskan sky as he drew his last breaths, utterly alone.
In contrast to Joyce Vincent, it seems that McCandless’ death is probably one he would have chosen, yet it still gives me pause: are we meant to live our lives in solitude, devoid of human contact? I don’t think so. Joyce Vincent’s documentary was replete with people who loved her and tried reaching out when they could tell she was pulling away. They were devastated by the news of her death. McCandless’ family was equally shattered–first, when he disappeared, cutting ties with them, and then years later when his body had been found. The movie portrays McCandless as an easy-going idealistic young man who touched the lives of people he met on the road. That is exactly the reason I believe we are not meant to be alone: we are meant to be with each other, affecting each other’s lives for the better good.
Although I use downtime to rejuvenate and rest, I ultimately crave being around other people. I can see that people like McCandless may not constantly need the comfort of being around other human beings, yet even McCandless left notes stating he was “lonely” and “scared”.
We all have a purpose here and are meant to touch each other in one way or another. Sometimes, our experiences with another human brings us pain, and others bring joy. One way or another, we are meant to learn, grow, and positively affect others. I don’t need to have my deathbed surrounded by all my loved ones, but I’d like to think that as I lie there taking my last few breaths, that my mind and heart will roll over all the wonderful people I have met–my coworkers, acquaintances, friends and family that became my Teachers. I even treasure certain memories of people that I met for a brief sliver of time…people that affected me and probably didn’t know it.
I think our Spirit needs to live out The Lone Wolf as a spirit animal for a short time, but only long enough to reflect on life and self. Then, we need to embody our own selves again to bless those around us with our uniqueness.
I will leave you with this funny, yet totally true saying I once heard, “You are special…just like everyone else!”
CJ Heath is thankful for the people in her life, even the ones she met only briefly and may not know their names. She is thankful for her experiences and hopes she will always grow and become a better person because of them. If you are in her life, she is thankful to you for being one of her teachers. Peace!!