I am an introverted person who is pretty good at being social. This leads most people to assume that I like being social. Don’t get me wrong, human connection is great and I enjoy being with people one-on-one or in small groups. However, socializing in large groups is like carrying a sandbag over my shoulders. Over the years I’ve learned to carry that burden and carry it well, but when you live in a house with 400 other people you tend to have to pick up that sandbag a lot. It can be exhausting.
I discovered my introverted self many years ago when I decided to go on vacation alone. I went to a cabin in the woods and didn’t talk to anyone for almost 2 weeks. It was the best vacation of my life. I came back telling everyone what a great time I had being alone and they all looked at me askance, like something was wrong with me.
I have had this fantasy ever since that vacation that I would go to Alaska and build a log cabin, leave society behind, and live the rest of my life in quiet solitude. It’s a selfish fantasy, I know, and I’m not going to act on it any time soon. Still, I yearn for solitude and that is one of the burdens that I carry living in a community where I am constantly surrounded by people.
We all carry burdens. We all have longings. Some for solitude, some for fellowship, some for challenge, some for peace, some for justice, some for inclusion, some for heart, some for knowledge, some for aesthetics, some for engineering, etc. The list is as varied as our language allows it to be. It’s in the fact we have longings, whatever they may be, that we can find a common hope for something better. My experience has taught me that there is something more, something beyond what this life and world has to offer. I have a sense that this existence falls short from what it was intended to be.
Perhaps that is because the place where longing originates isn’t of this existence. Perhaps longing is that intuitive knowledge that humanity isn’t quite in tune with the rest of the universe. Perhaps longing is that glimpse into being in the presence of God. And perhaps, when I long to be in that cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, I really long to be with alone with God.