I’ve never been one of those people who get security by feeding off the presence of others.  I’ve never been at a lack for friends, making new ones and holding on to old ones.  But I’ve always cherished my alone time.  Does this make me a loner? No. I love my friends, I really do.  With all of them, together I have wonderful memories. Occasionally every few months I get together with a circle of girl friends I’ve made down here in Florida, for our annual ‘girls night out’.  It’s always a good night, filled with laughter, good food, and real conversation. We talk about anything, no bars held.  We have no limits, we’re all very open with who we are and we love it that way.  And I love these nights, however I’d have to say I lead a somewhat solitary life.

I lived on my own for a couple years, I loved it.  I welcomed my independence from my parents with open arms at 20 years old, and when it came to decorating my very first apartment, I was ecstatic.  I looked at the apartment as if it were a blank slate, ready to be drawn on.  I never longed for a roommate, and don’t remember a time where I felt lonely either.  I loved coming home to an empty place, propping my feet up and relaxing in my personal space.  There was nothing more liberating.

It’s always hard to coordinate time together with your friends.  People are busy; for some the workplace is their second home, and for those who have children in addition to work, let’s just say they have next to nil when it comes to downtime.  But just because someone wasn’t available didn’t mean I deprived myself of entertainment.  I’m a promoter of solitary adventures.  Driving alone. Eating alone. Crafting alone. Shopping alone. Enjoying the beach alone.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy my time with my friends, but, if you place too much dependence upon other people to always accompany you, they’ll let you down.

I had a friend like that in high school…and it annoyed the hell out of me.  Nice girl, but she was in a way socially handicapped.  I sometimes felt like I was her parent, coaxing her through that separation anxiety stage which so many children go through.  If she needed something at the mall, she couldn’t go alone, she needed me to tag along.  At school, if she had to use the restroom, I had to damn near hold her hand.  And forget about her ever eating alone in some restaurant.  She avoided these at all costs; it painted her as a loser (what?!).  What was really bizarre was when I declined to join her on certain occasions, she got pissy.  It was time for some friend weeding. As the months passed, my patience was wearing thin with her chronic emotional dependence . I was tired of being her security blanket. I asked myself, Is this girl incapable of finding security within herself? The friendship eventually fizzled, and I moved on, continuing on in the road to find myself, while the girl continued latching on to other people, desperate for them to help her along her road.  But that was the thing: people can’t help you find yourself.  You have to.  It has to be an independent, soul-seeking journey.  How does one accomplish this?  Through time alone.  Have you ever gone to the beach, appreciated the smell of the sea, let your eyes get lost in the waves, and let your mind go on autopilot? Or hiked a winding nature trail, appreciating the quiet sanctuary of leaves and soil…Or sat at the edge of a quiet lake, distracted by the aquatic calm, the kind where you can’t differentiate where the sky ends and the lake begins?

There’s a quote that illustrates the concept of solitude, from Eda LeShan. It reads, “When we cannot bear to be alone, it means we do not properly value the only companion we will have from birth to death- ourselves.”

 

There’s a lot of truth in that quote.  Like the emotionally dependent friend from school, the fact that she rendered herself incapable of doing independent things, and doing a pouty dance when someone declined to accompany her to the bathroom, lead me to believe she had some serious holes in her soul, perhaps she didn’t like something about herself as a person, therefore reaching out to the presence of others for distraction from her own insecurities? And yes, while one of the amenities of having a friend is always having an ear to listen, if one is constantly surrounded by others, how will one ever get to truly know themselves?  It’s in the quiet moments of life where one can willfully listen to their deepest thoughts, hopes, fears and desires.  This is how we come to understand ourselves. This is the importance of solitude.

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