[Bella’s intro: Single life is for men and women. In fact, throughout most of the adult lifespan, there are more lifelong single men than women. But writings about single life are overwhelmingly by or about women. I am always delighted when I find single men who are up for telling their stories, and I am especially happy to welcome David P. Crews to tell his. As you will see in Part 1 of this 2-part essay, David has led an amazing life, full of adventures and accomplishments. But when he tells other people about his experiences, he does not always get such a positive response. What’s that about? Stay tuned for Part 2, sometime in the coming week.]

A Single Man Follows His Heart

By David P. Crews

I am a happy single man, now in my early 60s and very pleased to walk a self-defined path with heart. We singles-at-heart are a diverse group, as one would imagine with nearly half of all Americans ticking the “unmarried” box these days: extroverts, introverts, workers of all varieties, rich and poor. I happen to be on the lower side of the income scale, an optimistic and creative introvert who treasures my time and my freedom to do what I want. I pursue fulfilling adventures and achievements that feed my own path. I’d like to share a few of those particulars with you for the express purpose of illustrating an unexpected side-effect or phenomena I’ve noticed. It has led me, with my particular propensities, to become more and more socially isolated in a kind of counterpoint with the enrichment of my own single life. I’d like to define this better in order to deal with it more effectively, so this discussion is a bit of an exploration.

To put it concisely, it seems that as I live a life of joyful accomplishments and artisanship and then endeavor to share my story with others, I often become mislabeled, rebuffed, and misunderstood. People’s defense mechanisms are unintentionally triggered and I can even be perceived as some kind of threat. I then become reluctant or unable to connect beyond surface interactions, and so, I tend to disengage, thus increasing my isolation.

Other than a period of marriage that I’ll touch on in a moment, I’ve been happily single from the moment I left my beloved parent’s home in 1972 and moved into a separate small house. They were only a block away, but I suddenly had a thrilling kind of freedom. Only my schedule. Comfort. Books. Music. Creativity. My own style of décor and possessions on display. My own actual space and place in the world. In every moment, I was able to be only the person I wanted to be and not compelled or deformed toward another person’s vision or expectations.

Yes, I was married for nine years, beginning at age 42 (and no children). I would say now, it was a marriage of deep friendship, and we’re still good friends. It seemed that getting married would stop the nagging thought in my own head that I “should” be married by now and so, let’s get on with it for everyone’s sake. It invoked that fear that I was becoming an “old butler” (I just made that up for the equivalent of an “old maid”). To family, I would always and forever be only “Uncle David” instead of something else. Something more. In hindsight, and with great respect for my former partner, I see now that I was always single at heart, deeply happiest on my own. I do not at all regret the experience. There were many positives as well as the inevitable negatives that made it’s furtherance impossible for me, but it also provided an internalized perspective to my present single life that I would not otherwise have had.

I know that I’m different. I’ve found my way to a kind of individualism that is freeing but uncommon. My philosophy of life is that of Castaneda’s shaman, don Juan, who advised that we should seek out a path with heart, for all paths lead to the same place. I seek out that “heart” so that my path is enjoyable and enriching and not a curse, imbuing it with meaning by my own actions. I’m constantly learning, creating art in diverse forms, pursuing certain deep levels of information, questioning orthodox history, traveling the world, and engaging in outright and authentic, sometimes dangerous, adventures. Even saying only this much just now begins to bring forth the problem. I’m not a selfish man, but because I am necessarily self-oriented, simply talking about my activities and interests to others can sound egotistical, narcissistic, or boasting, and that can and does easily backfire on me.

To make this more clear, I’m going to present here a brief sampling from my life to illustrate what I mean. These are the kinds of things that represent me–that I would talk about and share with people, to see them enjoy the art and the stories with me, to learn for myself from their life experiences, and perhaps even to inspire them to follow their own “paths with heart,” but please understand that I would never blast anyone at any time with a list like this only to “show off.” It’s simply a rapid picture collage, one of many I could share, of who I am and what I’ve been doing as a single man for such a very long time.

I travel and learn and create things. I’ve seen the world from the summit of the Matterhorn and quite a few other large mountains I’ve climbed on two continents. Earlier in life, I wrote and successfully self-published an influential and internationally distributed interpretational book on the New Testament. Later, I spent years researching the history of religion and authored a popular and optimistic website for people leaving Christianity. I’ve composed and performed award-winning music for films I’ve made, and to support my extensive travel photography. In the 80s, I co-produced the nationally syndicated Science Fiction Radio Show and interviewed most of the famous authors of that time like Ray Bradbury, and palled around a bit with a not-yet-famous George R. R. Martin. Just this year, I finished writing my own epic Science Fiction novel and I’ll self-publish it this Fall. I’ve traveled to the Upper Amazon twice to support and work with tribal and mestizo medicine people and the most powerful spirit medicines on Earth, including ayahuasca. Those ancient experiences–the most important thing I’ve ever done for myself–have been astonishing and life-altering. I’ve flown a sailplane and I make really nice wood-burned gourds. I just drove over 4,200 miles to remote Wyoming to see the total eclipse of the sun and capture the amazing event with five cameras, then disappeared, alone, into my beloved Utah canyon wildernesses for a while. I’ve hiked across a live volcano, mountain biked in the Andes, and danced with a masked Incan girl to panpipes under a cold blue moon at 10,000 feet. I’ve run my own video post-production business for the last ten years and have had great fun in my 45 year-long professional career in television and radio broadcasting making television spots and programs, graphics and animation. I’ve helped build several TV stations and studios from the ground up, and I’ve been on-the-air for the last decade as a live host for one of the nation’s best classical public radio stations.

So, I’ve created and gotten to do a lot of cool things, but when I list out a sampling like that, it can sound, even to me, like I’m boasting when I’m truly not. Actually, I’m just having fun and doing things that fascinate me, so why do I feel guilty for mentioning them? Some do respond positively to my adventures, but I often get crickets or perhaps a polite show of interest followed by a change of subject. I shy away then, and turn the “sharing” button off. That’s kind of a problem for a single, intellectual, and creative yet fairly introverted man like me who pursues my heart’s desire rather than following the well-worn path of what “normal” men do.

So, I’ve tried to understand what it is that they see.

[From Bella, again: Stay tuned, readers! In Part II of this 2-part essay, coming soon, David will describe what he thinks is going on when other people react the way they do to his stories about his life experiences. Thanks, David!]

 

About the Author

For 45 years, David P. Crews has been an award-winning broadcast television director, editor, and motion graphics artist and animator, now running his own video and music company, CrewsCreative. David is also a long-time on-air radio host and associate at KMFA-FM, a listener supported, non-commercial all-classical station in Austin, Texas. His newest book is an epic science fiction adventure titled Xenoplague. Check out his video channel and blog.