I spend too much time alone: not by myself necessarily, I can be surrounded by people but still be alone. Most people know the experience: I experience it several times a week, invariably on the weekends. Like today: I went for my regular walk along the beach foreshore; wasted some time on the computer; went back down to the beach to read – to get outside and to be around other people, really. I watched the couples and groups of friends passing by; mostly young and good-looking, with some few couples of middle and elder age. I could count the number of single people on the fingers of one hand.

At some time in the history of the Cambodian royal dynasty, a king asked his sages to give him one saying that could hold true for all situations. Their solution was “This too shall pass”. Ecclesiastes in a nutshell. For me, these times of intense loneliness do pass; they also return, with a frequency that makes non-existence desirable. I have prayed to God to decreate me, but He won’t, so I have to keep striving to reach the Kingdom: God help me.

I wonder where I’d be if I wasn’t on antidepressants? Dead through suicide? If I weren’t a Christian I could imagine it. Even as a Christian, it’s not unthinkable. If you are Christian at least you know where you’re going, allowing for lack of assurance – which I’ve also experienced for about 11 of my 15 years as a Christian. (Some believe that a Christian loses their salvation if they commit suicide. I’ve argued against this in my book on depression.)

But back to the topic at hand. When I go out by myself I invariably feel more miserable, when I see couples and families out together. I don’t imagine it’s always bliss or that a relationship answers all your problems but being single, I have time that couples don’t have: but I’ve nothing worthwhile to do with all that time. Pray? Read the Bible? Evangelize? Oh yes; all the time. Prayer and evangelism are my spiritual gifts: I always see results. (Must I say “Not!”?) I still do these activities but not with joy or hope that anything will happen. This attitude of positive expectancy is born of past experience.

So, back to the action. (At least this tale is progressing in some way, unlike my life; with the exception that I grow older.) I received an extra dose of misery this weekend. I realised I hadn’t used my camera for a while, so after I had showered and shaved, I snapped a few self-portraits. Looking at the results, I thought, “My God I’m ugly!” It was the only thought I had but I thought it several times. Generally my skin is best described as “washed out and pock-marked”; today, my cheeks and chin were a semi-gloss orange that clashed with the drying spots of blood on my throat. (Over the twenty years I’ve been shaving regularly, I could count on the fingers of both hands the amount of times I’ve shaved without cutting myself.) The blue bruises under my eyes told of sleep deprivation, but combined with the white and patchy red of the rest of my face, I looked like a cooperative effort between Picasso and Pollock on a portrait of American patriotism. It was a face only a mother could love, and mother died years ago. I don’t wonder why none of my relatives have any photos of just me. Me with other family members – group shots and so on – yes, but none of just me. No need to say what that does to one’s self-esteem.

Realistically though, I’m not ugly as such; I’m just plain vanilla. Mr Nondescript Face-in-the-Crowd. This would make me an excellent assassin; but on the social scene, I’m the one who dies. So what I lack in physical attractiveness, I have to make up for with personality. Given what you’ve said so far, I hear you say, good luck with that. I need more than luck, which I consider a fallacy.

What about a hobby or social group, you’re asking? I’ve been in the Church since ’93 and I’ve been dancing since 2000. I must confess, there have been a couple of bites on the line but I never noticed until it was too late. Like the time a girl I had met at Ceroc told me that she knew of four girls who were attracted to me. This information came over a year later and the girls were all hooked up with other guys. Nonetheless, it’s now 2008 and I’m still single.

So what’s my latest plan? Read my article on hope.