by Niall Doherty

I realized something strange about myself a few months ago. At first I thought it was a bad thing, like I was missing a crucial part of my brain or something, but I’ve come to accept that it’s just who I am, and believe that it actually helps me be a happier person. Here it is…

I don’t miss people.

As in, when I’m away from friends and family, I don’t miss them. I’ve been in Spain now for almost two months, and except for a few brief moments of self-inflicted loneliness, I haven’t missed anyone from back home in Ireland, or from New Orleans (where I lived from 2007-2010).

This October I’ll be embarking on a three-year round-the-world trip without flying, and it’s likely I won’t see the majority of my family and friends for all that time. Will I miss them?

Nope, can’t imagine that I will.

Why do we miss people?

I believe we only miss people when we’re not enjoying the present moment. When we’re busy wishing someone else was around, we’re not exactly giving a vote of confidence to our current situation. It’s as if we’re saying, “Now sucks. It would be better if my buddy/sister/boyfriend was here.”

Funny thing is, when you’re busy missing people, you end up missing whatever’s happening right in front of you. And that usually includes a bunch of good stuff.

I choose not to fight the now. I choose not to resist the present moment. I do my best to focus on being fully present, enjoying new people and experiences, rather than pining for old ones.

If I find myself in a situation that truly does suck, I do what I can to change it. I see that as a vastly better course of action than wishing I was somewhere else.

Not missing people vs. not caring

Don’t confuse not missing people with not caring. Just because I don’t miss people doesn’t mean I don’t care about them. You can be my best friend and I won’t miss you while we’re apart, but next time we see each other I’ll be delighted. I’ll enjoy our time together as fully as I can.

And then I’ll move on to the next moment, with or without you.

I care about my parents, but I’m okay with the fact that I may not see them for three years while I’m off lapping the planet. As long as I know they’re happy and well, I’m all good.

But what if one of them died? Would I miss them then?

I think so. If I knew I’d never see a friend or family member again, that would upset me. But I’ve been lucky so far in that I’ve never had to deal with the sudden loss of a loved one. Nobody’s been taken away from me before old age.

Methinks it’s a whole different ballgame when it comes to death, because we never really know what comes after. I like to believe in an afterlife, in reincarnation (Deepak swayed me on that one), but there’s just no telling what happens when the blood stops, and I’m not willing to believe with any huge certainty that I’ll see people again on some other side.

So yeah, I would be upset if someone died and I never got a chance to see them again. But I see that as just another great reason why we should be living in the now and enjoying the present moments we have with people. Once those moments are over, move on and enjoy the next. Experience each now fully, leave nothing unsaid, collect no regrets.

Ebb and flow

People naturally come and go from your life, and that’s fine. It’s like that with one of my best friends. We drift in and out of each other’s lives, often going months at a time without contact. But when we are in each other’s company, we’re all there.

I’ve noticed though that we’ve grown more apart in recent years. Not because we don’t keep in regular contact, just naturally. That happens sometimes. I’m not going to fight it. Resistance is futile. Everything changes. That’s the transient nature of relationships. You can’t keep every relationship the same all the time. You have to accept the ebb and flow.

People will leave your life, new friends will come along, old friends will reappear… it’s all good. You roll with it.

That’s not to say you don’t make an effort to keep in contact with people. I touch base with certain friends every so often, make time to meet and catch up. But I only to do this when I want to, not because I feel obliged to.

Missing a romantic partner

I broke up with my most recent girlfriend a couple months ago. We got along brilliantly while we were together, but I was moving abroad, she was staying put, it was time to end it. I felt pretty low that last day. There were tears on both sides. Not much fun.

I allowed myself a little time to grieve, and then the next day I got right back to enjoying the present. I decided that the time me and my partner had had together was great, I enjoyed it all thoroughly while it lasted, but that time had now passed and it didn’t serve me to dwell on it.

I’ve thought about her many times since, but I can’t say that I’ve missed her.

This viewpoint can be tricky. I’m good with it personally, but try telling a girl that you’re not going to miss her when you’re apart. Not an easy thing for most people to hear.

If you take issue with this viewpoint, here’s a question for you: Do you really want your partner to be upset when you’re apart? Would it make you feel good if they were unhappy without you?

If your answer is yes, it sounds to me like your love for that person is totally conditional. You only want them to be happy in your presence. You only love them for what they can give to you, not for who they are.

The flip side

Since I don’t miss people and have come to believe it’s perfectly fine not to, I’d be a wee bit of a hypocrite to expect others to miss me when I’m not around. Luckily, I don’t. I want people to enjoy my company, sure, but I don’t want them to feel any sadness in my absence. Why would I wish that on anyone?

Yes, I love for people to remember me fondly when I’m away, but not at the expense of their present. I think of all the things they’re likely to miss out on if they’re busy missing me. No thanks.

Please be happy when I’m gone.

Methinks this is unlikely to be a popular viewpoint. That’s okay. I just wanted to write my truth. This is who I am. I’m a guy who doesn’t miss people. I enjoy experiences and moments, and I try to live in the present. I’ve accepted myself for that. I feel no urge to change it.

Not that I’m some master at living with present moment awareness. Not by a long shot. I still sometimes worry, still sometimes reminisce. That’s okay. I just keep trying my best to remain in the present. Methinks I’m getting better at it.

What’s your take?