A few weeks ago, while having lunch with a couple of friends, one of them recounted an experience she recently had at a restaurant. She was attempting to have a quiet dinner out, a seemingly innocuous event… except she was alone. It started with the hostess, “just one?” Then the server wanted to know, “are we waiting for someone else?” Then there were the stares from the other patrons. By the end, her quiet dinner became an awkward experience reminiscent of a scene from a high school cafeteria. Perfect fodder for a blog that has been brewing in my mind since.
At which point did “one” become such an insignificant number? Who decided that “one” was insufficient? It’s the first number in the number system! You can’t get anything started without “just one”. Many of the world’s greats are solo acts. There is just one Great Wall of China. Just one Eiffel Tower in Paris. Just one Taj Mahal. Just one Niagara Falls. Just one Nile River. There is just one Jesus. Just one Martin Luther King. Just one Steve Jobs. Just one Oprah. Just one Earth. Yes we live in community and we serve as a body, but there is only one left foot. One right hand. After all, aren’t children constantly reminded that there is “just one you”? Don’t we use that mantra to tote our uniqueness and individual qualities???
Blah, blah, blah. All that talk is just an attempt to make you feel better about not being allowed at the cool kids’ table in grade school.
Last weekend, in a moment of zombie-like mindlessness, I got sucked into several episodes of The Walking Dead. Half-way through the fourth hour, as the night eerily drew close, I regained consciousness, turned off the TV, and repented of the wasteful use of my time. Of course, I couldn’t sleep all night. But it wasn’t the gore or thoughts of a zombiepocalypse that kept my mind buzzing, it was the idea of being alone. In the event of a cataclysmic disaster, I didn’t want to be just one. In actuality, I don’t believe any one does. Sure, I have times when I crave solitude. But even the most individualistic personality wants to, at the very least, be understood by one other person. That left foot needs the right one. It can find a way to function without it, but not without awkward stares and uncomfortable questions.
I’ve been thinking about this “just one” deal for three weeks now, realizing that many of us are walking around feeling like “just one”. In fact, another single friend mentioned the sadness she feels when she leaves church because she doesn’t want to go have lunch alone. I know that feeling – far too well. And I started to ask the question, why? Why have lunch alone? With so many just ones, why be by myself? So I made a decision… to be just one of a couple, a few, or many.