Today I went to a holiday luncheon given by local officials.
The function was held in a large garage of sorts, which had been converted into a "party room". I knew a very few of the throng of people there, although everyone seemed entirely friendly. We first went down a serving line, where the hosts, two justices of the peace, a constable, and a county official, stood shaking our hands. We then all stood in long lines to get hot dogs and home-made chili. It was all very informal, and very congenial, but still, we were all awash in a friendly sargasso of humanity.
When we had gotten our meals, we headed to long tables where we scouted out three chairs beside one another. I watched around me as hundreds of people socialized and dined. I suspect that in every such room, most people truly feel as I do, like those trees on an isolated island on the jewel case art. The currents may rise, and the currents may fall, and the mist circulates everywhere, but I stand alone in such spaces. Large spaces of congenial strangers can be very distancing places for me. I feel a little badly that I am not at my best in Whoville, holding hands with others, singing holiday songs. But I take some comfort in knowing that I am not quite the grinch, either. I stand at the view-plate, looking fondly and yet at a distance at the passing asteroids.
I think that there should be some special dispensation for the well-meaning shy--perhaps a saint for the hopeful but not charismatic, maybe a quieter alcove of Hell. But in the meantime, I'll gather my hot dog and my chili and a speckled Xmas cookie, and muddle through this sort of thing as well as I can.