What is the secret to being alone?
There are many people I know who have lived their whole lives alone, and manage to fill their days so completely that you wonder when they sleep.
I am not one of them. I like being alone, sometimes. But on other times it seems like a yawning void, and I simply do not have the skills necessary to fill it.
Last night, I was completely, 100% alone. Well, I’ve been alone all week off and on during the day, but last night the house felt empty because I was the only living creature breathing in its rooms. Nathan has been gone since Tuesday, off to his summer job in Iowa with the dogs. Sarah was invited to a friend’s house for a sleepover. I was alone, with my books, my television, my plants, and the silence of frogs croaking, crickets chirping, the house creaking and the drone of the nearby freeway.
I was completely alone.
I woke this morning to the ringing of my phone, as Sarah called to ask if I would drop off a bathing suit so she could spend the day with her friends doing something that involved water.
So I’ve spent the whole morning alone. Did I spend it wisely? Of course not. I ended up watching Charmed episodes on DVD while playing a video game all morning.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been kind of fun.
But, the experience of being alone right now is making me think about how difficult it is to learn to be alone. I’ve written about alone vs. lonely before, and loneliness has been a recurring theme lately throughout my blog posts. But this post isn’t really about feeling lonely.
It’s about the art of being alone.
How does one be alone and feel fulfilled? I look back on the ways I have filled my time in the past, during periods where I lived alone, and I realize I have never truly mastered the art of being alone.
Here are some of the things I have done when I am alone. Not all of them are good for me.
- Study languages
- Play computer games
- Watching tv
- drink (alcohol)–very rarely, and usually for a reason
- talk to myself
- chat on Facebook
- Clean up messes
While some of these things are good, I tend to spend more time on the time suck ones, like Facebook, computer games and television, and then get angry at myself for wasting time. So perhaps I should add to the list that I spend a lot of alone time being really hard on myself.
I don’t want to do that anymore.
I am looking toward more alone time this summer. While Sarah and I will be joining Nathan, I don’t really have a place or a purpose there. I try to help where I’m needed. but that help isn’t always welcomed. Sarah enjoys the freedom of the theatre lot, and entertains herself for most of the time. Nathan thrives on the work. I am alone.
I want to fill my alone time with substance. I want to work toward the life I dream, where I produce quality work in my alone time, and I spend quality time with other when I am not alone. But to do that I need to master the art of being alone.
How do I do this? How do you spend your time alone?
Meanwhile, as I wrote this, my alone time ended, and now I am dealing with a slightly grumpy, tired 9-year-old. Let the chaos begin.