How To Be Alone

This is an absolutely beautiful little video.  And close to my heart.  I spend most of my time alone.  The nature of living with a night shift worker means there are seven days in every fourteen when I am alone.  I don’t see people other than him so much.  Not much of a social life here.

There are times I feel very lonely.  That’s exacerbated by the internet- of having many connections but few with whom I truly connect.  With someone always on chat but never on the phone.  With 600 tagged photos of faces I never see in real life.  Sometimes I do feel very lonely.  I feel bad to admit to it.

But being alone. The older I’ve grown, the more I enjoy my own company.  I realise how much I value it when it’s taken away.  I get a little image of myself sitting here, drinking a coffee, being alone, and I yearn for it.  When I was working I was late home every day because I liked to look in the shop windows and run my hands through the vegetable racks and sniff the tomatoes.  I would rifle through my pockets for the change for tea.  6.30…7.30…head still in the paper.  I am used to getting looks for eating alone.  A £5 meze plate, my favourite treat, with just me eating and people taking my empty chair.  No, no-one is coming.  It’s just me.

In a way, I am halting about making new friends or polishing the friendships I already have because I like to be alone so much.  I like the space to think.  I feel bad admitting to that, too.  But I’m working on that.  I need to make the time for people.

Anyway, look, this is so lovely.

If you are at first lonely, be patient. If you’ve not been alone much, or if when you were you were not okay with it, then just wait. You’ll find its fine to be alone once you’re embracing it. We can start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library, where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the box, your not suppose to talk much anyway so its safe there. There is also the gym, if you’re shy, you can hang out with yourself and mirrors, you can put headphones in. There’s public transportation, we all gotta go places. And there’s prayer and mediation, no one will think less if your hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation. Start simple. Things you may have previously avoided based on avoid being principles. The lunch counter, where you will be surrounded by “chow downers”, employees who only have an hour and their spouse work across town, and they, like you, will be alone. Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone. When you are comfortable with “eat lunch and run”, take yourself out to dinner to a restaurant with linen and silver wear. You’re no less an intriguing a person when you are eating solo desert and cleaning the whip cream from the dish with your finger. In fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were. Go to the movies. Where it’s dark and soothing, alone in your seat amidst fleeting community. And then take yourself out dancing, to a club where no one knows you, stand on the outside of the floor until the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no ones watching because they are probably not. And if they are, assume it is with best human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely move to beats, after-all, is gorgeous and affecting. Dance till you’re sweating. And beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things. Down your back, like a book of blessings. Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you. Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, they are always statues to talk to, and benches made for sitting gives strangers a shared existence if only for a minute, these moments can be so uplifting and the conversation you get in by sitting alone on benches, might of never happened had you not been there by yourself.

Society is afraid of alone though. Like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements. Like people must have problems if after awhile no one is dating them. But lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it. You can stand swaffed by groups and mobs and hands with your partner, look both further and farther in the endless quest for company. But no one is in your head. And by the time you translate your thoughts an essence of them maybe lost or perhaps it is just kept. Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from pre-school over to high school groaning, we’re tokens for holding the lonely at bay. Cause if you’re happy in your head, and solitude is blessed, and alone is okay., Its okay if no one believes like you, all experiences unique, no one has the same synapses can’t think like you, this be ?, keeps things interesting, lifes magic things ?, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t connected, the community is not present, just take back to you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. Take silence and respect it, if you have an art that needs practice stop neglecting it, if your family doesn’t get you or a religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it. You could me in an instant surrounded if you need it, if your heart is bleeding, make the best of it, there is heat and freezing be a testiment.

5 Responses

  1. Hi Seaneen. You summed up the dichotomy very nicely. Wanting to be with the one you love, and not having much relish for other company are two different things, springing from two different parts of the self. I know some people are different, too. I don’t mind loneliness – I hate and despise this semi-connectedness we all have at the moment. Apart is apart; text and blip and virtual signifier is all a waste of of time. Together is together: no need for gadgets (oo err missus etc, depending on preference, of course 🙂 ).

    What we have now is the worst of all worlds: not ever being truly alone if we’re within range of a mobile phone mast; and what follows from that: that we pretend we’re together in a slovenly way when we’re truly not, which just breeds a whole compost heap of complacent worms.

  2. I love that video, I’ve watched it a million times. I used to be very good at being alone, partly because it was all I knew. I’m having much more trouble with it now, it is something I have to work on.

  3. Thank you Seaneen,
    I found the Video was very sad but very apt.
    Please keep writing and informing everyone.
    Kind regards,

  4. glad you liked it too…I’ve posted it twice too.

  5. Hi. I’m new here, but a sort of old hand at this (14 years post-diagnosis with BP II). However, I too spend much of my time alone for good and for ill. I’m gregarious, but not a good deep friendship-maker, so that people are always surprised when they find out how much time I voluntarily spend alone.

    Anyway, I love what I’ve read of your blog so far, and just wanted to chime in and say I’m here. And sympathetic. Maybe overly so!

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