Better than Solitude

(c) 2012, Davd


A man i know by name but not well, woke me from what would have been a good night’s sleep, to tell me he was up on his roof watching the sunset. In the often-muggy Atlantic summer weather, a good night’s sleep is nothing to hold in contempt; so as soon as i had said “good morning” [to let the caller know it was the wee hours of…] and found out it was not an emergency or a dear friend in distress, i was in a bit of a bad mood.

“Joe*” sounded not dead drunk but, to this non-cop-non-clinical ear, “as if he’d had a few”. I hadn’t spoken to him for several years—it took me a few minutes to recognize who he was after he said “sunset” and i realized he was calling from the West. (Mind you, he did get me up out of a sound sleep at midnight, and i wasn’t wide awake to begin with.)

So he was apparently too far into the drink, to drive legally under today’s strict rules1—and up on his roof watching the sunset. I’ve seen his house, the roof has a 3:10 or 4:10 pitch and there is no easy way to go up on it—no trap door, no stairs, not even a well-attached fire escape (from most ordinary house roofs, there is none, and his roof is ordinary enough.) The vertical drop from the eaves is at least ten feet—and he’s up there watching the sunset with enough alcohol in him to phone across Canada and not realize what time it is at my end?

Poor guy! He should have had better and safer things to do.

My impression, and i repeat that i’m not clinically or police trained and might err, was that Joe had got drunk enough to phone whoever came to mind—but from on top of a roof, from which roof i worried that he might not get down safely. Odds were, i guessed, that he would make it down that evening, especially since i urged him to be careful climbing down, and used that as my reason to end the call. (It was about then that he realized it was 0040 here, and he really had waked me in the middle of the night.)

There’s nothing wrong with watching the sunset alone; but that call to me seemed to indicate he wasn’t satisfied with being alone—and to mess up the metaphor, Joe’s not alone in being lonely. I suppose there are dozens to hundreds of old men, even dozens to hundreds of old women in the small city and surrounding valley where he lives, who get lonely enough to call up somebody on a Thursday evening. A few of them who drink more than the Canada Food Guide says they should, will phone people they don’t know very well, at odd hours. Those who get tipsy and phone long distance are probably rather profitable to the phone companies.

 Let’s hope he doesn’t go the way of a former student and a former colleague who were known for taking the drink and telephoning people at night.  Joe sounded more coherent than i remember them; and i don’t think he needs to go down that road. My colleague eventually shot himself a-la-Hemingway; the former student lost a good job. If they had been sharing house with other men who accept alcoholic drink, my best guess is, they would have talked themselves out right at home; and as Peter Berger wrote in Invitation to Sociology, the behaviour of people who live together tends to consistency. Joe would likely drink about as much as his housemates and with their counsel, find a safe way to enjoy the sunsets.

The obvious thing for Joe to do, then, is to share his house with one or more other men of similar habits, so he has someone to talk to without Long Distance, and someone to warn him if indeed he was too tipsy to go climbing a ladder and a pitch roof, to watch the sunset. Joe’s house has three decent-sized bedrooms—and pretty good views even if you don’t go up on the roof. I’ve shared such a house myself, with two sons and after they moved on, with a friend who was moving to where i lived and wanted to take his time finding a place. I enjoyed the company of all three men.

We men are “pack animals”, by nature; and solitude should for most men, be like the oregano in a good pasta sauce—definitely part of life, but far from the largest part. That, almost certainly, is one important reason Joe called me. The notion that a man should live alone or else with a woman, may serve some commercial interests in real-estate, some phone companies, even some sellers of The Drink. It does not serve the interests of most men.

(There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of posts in the “androsphere”, about the risks of marriage as redefined by Feminist lobbying. It’s similar-to but not exactly like Gandhi’s famous critical-aphorism about Christianity2: Marriage is a great idea which, in today’s legal environment, men can never enter with real security because the legal state of civil marriage is basically insecure, and tempts women to exploit us. Some men may find support additional to civil law and marry in relative safety; some take a great risk, and of those, many suffer.)

As i wrote early this year, a group of men sharing a house and vehicle in the region where i live, can probably live decently well spending only $5000 each on taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities—and even basic food. Not only is it socially and psychologically healthy for men to live in groups; it’s mighty efficient economically. We’ve been sold a lot of stuff we don’t need, for a lot of money we might have put to better use, by commercial interests that want men [and women] to live alone not for our good, but for their profit.

Now how do we identify the thousands, perhaps millions of men in Canada, who could live better in households of buddies, and then get together groups whose nature fits together and who can readily become buddies. There will be men who don’t want alcoholic drink in their homes, men who like a beer or a dram of whisky but seldom if ever more than two, and men who like to get tipsy; there will be outdoor men and city-men, Christians and Pagans and Buddhists and agnostics and others3. What they will all have in common, is being men more good than bad, more generous-to-friends than grasping, far more candidly honest than
deceptive—men who deserve one another in a thoroughly good sense.

I wouldn’t post this ‘blog’ if i thought Joe was the only man who could benefit. I know full well he isn’t; and i believe a good colleague whose ex-wife’s exploitations drove him to drink too much, might well be alive today if he’d had a group of buddies for a household.

* Joe is not his name—which is why i choose to refer to him as Joe, here.

1. 0.05% alcohol—5 percent of 1 percent, or half a part per thousand—of alcohol is “too much”, and entitles the police to suspend a driver’s license for 12 hours; while it is a crime—equal to a “felony” for US readers—to drive with 0.08% blood alcohol.

2. I’ve read two versions at least of Gandhi’s aphorism, both in varying wordings:

-a- Christianity is a wonderful idea and somebody should give it a serious try; and

-b- Christianity is a great ideal to which no one can live-up.

What Gandhi, a Hindu himself, did not seem to notice, is that leading Christians, especially in the Orthodox Churches, esplicitly state that the ideal was achieved only by Jesus Christ.  Practicing Christians strive to achieve it knowing that on a corrupt Earth, they can expect only to approach it more and more closely until life ends.

Marriage is an arrangement which as “The Misandry Bubble”  states, has been much the same in many diverse civilizations.  Civil “marriage” in much of “Western civilization” today fails to follow the pattern; and much of “Western civilization” is threatened thereby.

3. I’m not naming Muslims because i have a hint of an indication, from a young man who had converted to Islam, that they are better networked than other faiths and might already be organizing as i suggest here.

 

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About Davd

Davd (PhD, 1966) has been a professor, a single father keeping a small commercial herb garden so as to have flexible time for his sons, and editor of _Ecoforestry_. He is a practicing Christian, and in particular an advocate of ecoforestry, self-sufficiency horticulture, and men of all faiths living together "in peace and brotherhood" for the fellowship, the efficiency, and the goodwill that sharing work so often brings.
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