‘The joy of being alone’….I have NEVER in my life been able to say that and mean it. I mean really mean it. I might have had my moments, but to actually believe it for an extended period of time? Yup. I am finally there.
I’ve been reading about writers like Hemingway and Cheever and the necessity of being alone for creativity to unfold. And so far, all I hear from them is that it’s a blessing and a curse. Well, I’ve mostly felt the curse part of solitude. Now I’m feeling the blessing part, too.
Here is what I know about myself. I tend to focus on helping other people. I’m pretty good at it, in fact. That’s why I’m a teacher. The problem with being a teacher, though, is you forget to help yourself. You put everyone else first. And that gets sucky. You get so good at reading other people, that you forget to read yourself. You get so good at sensing what other people need or want, that you can’t remember what?…. huh?….. what was I saying?
I had this student once who talked about how she could never just sit still. How she always had to stay busy. It was almost impossible for her to lay down and rest, even when she was sick. That’s how I am. But it’s not because I can’t sit down and chill. It’s because I feel like if I do, then the world is going to end. Bills need to be paid, dishes need to be done, cats need shots, the roof needs to be fixed, dogs need to be walked. There is an endless list of stuff always whirring around in my head so it takes tremendous fortitude for me to say ‘fuck it’ and just sit down and chill and to accept the mayhem that surrounds me.
Now, in 2017, I’m finally getting it. I finally understand why. I can’t sit still and not stay busy because I haven’t – in the past – liked to remember that I’m alone. At least if I’m doing things all the time (usually for other people, directly or indirectly), then I don’t have to think about the fact that I’m alone. Doing things becomes my way of staying connected. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s a thing. Like if I’m running around because I’m going to make a nice dinner for my family, then that’s nice. Or if I’m running around because the dog’s nails need to be trimmed to be happy, then that’s nice, too. But the part that is not nice is that I’m not running around enough for me.
So in 2017 that’s my resolution. If I’m going to run around, I’m doing it for moi more. And it may remind me that I’m alone but so be it. I’ll remember myself as a kid being happy on my own and hopefully that will be enough. I’ll remember that being content and being alone is an example that I can set my family. That nobody has to be there to complete you. That you are complete unto yourself. Because if you go through life thinking someone else is going to complete you, then you are fucked from the start.