By: Dwayne Parton

Conflicts with Fear and Loneliness

I go into Walmart to walk around. Meander. I don’t need anything. I walk the whole store except the isles designated for the ladies. I go from the toy section, to the outdoors, to the automotives, and to the electronics.

“Honestly, do you ever get lonely or afraid?” I’ve been asked that a few times now. I immediately think “Of course”. I’m in the grocery section just passing the milk. “Well….do you ever get lonely?” I ask them back. Figuratively speaking and talking to myself. I know the answer, we all get lonely.

When I get to the fruit section I find raspberries for $2.49. I love raspberries. I buy them along with some white cheddar cheez-its and a yellow SOBE. I smile at the cashier. She’s an older lady, and I figure a smile might be refreshing. “Thanks a bunch.” I say and take my bag. She smiles back.

I’m anxious to eat the raspberries. I pull out the container and walk slowly through the parking lot. I place one of the tart berries in my mouth and chew it slowly. First pressing it flat with my tongue so I can feel eat part of the berry separate. I don’t get to eat raspberries much so this is a real treat.

A guy has an RV parked near me. “That looks like a nice set up.” I say. “Thanks” he says in the tone meaning I don’t want to talk to you. I open my tailgate. I have a few berries left and I continue eating. I feel alone. I am alone. My legs are dangling down. I place another berry in my mouth and chew it as slow as the first; savoring the moment.

I remember the first time I felt alone. Truly alone. I was in Italy on Elba Island with some “friends” who just left me. We were camping. I got the ground cloth and those two love birds took the tent. That 4 letter word is why they left me, but I don’t blame them. In that moment, I was just a spec on the earth. A mark that if erased would not be missed for some time. I was alone and no one else knew it.

Feeling alone is not a bad thing. It’s just a part of being human. We can feel alone at home just as easily as we can on a deserted island. It’s just easier to remedy. I don’t think loneliness is particularly enjoyable, but it comes with the territory. In the end I think I will have gained more than I’ve lost.

Every character must go through conflict. Far from being a bad thing, conflict in story is a necessity. In America we live in a culture that avoids conflict but we do so to our own detriment. ~Donald Miller – Storyline Blog

As for fear. I have the imagination of a 5 year old. I see pirates behind trees, bury treasures, and wrestle with bears. It’s quite the demon sometimes. 5 miles into the wild, the dark is coming, and every monster with it. I walk fast. A twig breaks and it’s a mountain lion. Every thump is a rhino, but there are no rhinos here. A bear then. A great big Grizzly…*Crack* I jump and look back. Whew, just a chipmunk. I shake it off and keep walking. There’s an on going battle in my mind. A fear of the unknown.

Photo by [John Speier](

I’ve worked through some of these fears on the Appalachian Trail. Eventually, you just get tired of being scared to sleep, so you do. You have no choice but to walk, trust that someone is looking out for you, and embrace what ever pitfalls may lie ahead.


These mountains are different. They really are scary. I don’t know them. They have bears and lions that really do eat people. My imagination is on overload but I have taken the necessary precautions. I carry bear spray, research where I’m going, carry a paring knife, and have a game plan. That’s the best I can do, and the rest is up to someone else.

These are your “rocking chair days.” Those are the days you will remember when you are old and rocking on the porch. You will relieve one of those days, one of those moments of awe and peace, and your face will light up with a smile. ~Commentary Fortytwo

I do get scared. I do feel lonely. I felt these things at home as well. They are a little different now. It’s just part of being human. Can’t let that stop you.