Sandra has gone away with the boys to visit her sister, and I have been left to my own devices for a few days. This is a rare occurrence, and I feel rather like a schoolboy being trusted to stay home alone for the first time. I’m so wrapped up in a quandary of how best to squeeze all sorts of tomfoolery into this small allotment of time that I might end up accomplishing nothing much at all. I cannot possibly fit in a viewing of all of those films that Sandra finds dull or absurd, and listen to music at firmamental volumes, and read all those books I’ve been neglecting, and get down to finishing that novel I started writing a couple years ago, and… How does one prioritize?!
Time spent alone is a running joke between Sandra and me. It became clear early on that she imagined I was up to some sort of depravity whenever I was alone when, in fact, mostly I was just reading articles on Wikipedia. When she calls me to say she will be home in 30 minutes, I tease, “okay, I’ll ask the exotic dancers to leave” or I’ll call out to imaginary guests, “time for you all to clear out, and don’t forget your clothes!”
“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” –Henry David Thoreau
I have always adored solitude. Of all the challenges of cohabitation — arguments over closet space, tiffs over different valuations on each other’s belongings (“you’re not putting that in the living room, are you?”) — the hardest loss for me to accept was the loss of time to myself. Over the years, I’ve learned to accept it, but it makes me cherish my moments alone all the more. Solitude is an opportunity to clear away mental cobwebs, to shrug off masks, and to be master of oneself without demands from one direction or another. It is a chance to examine myself independent of one of my roles (father, husband, employee, etc.) and to rediscover who I am. The experience is cathartic and leaves me feeling renewed.
Today, I am thankful for solitude, and for the rejuvenation it brings.
What is your experience of solitude? Share it with me in the Comments.