Yesterday I had a busy, noisy day in London. Some alcohol-fuelled students on the train got it off to a nerve-jangling start, and I found the crowds and noise difficult all day. So this morning, sitting in bed, aware of the silence around me, I could welcome it. And that gave me a different perspective on being alone – it’s a neutral space, that I can populate in different ways.
Maybe I have more choice in this than I like to accept. There’s a perverse pleasure sometimes in the melancholy, in the “lonely”, “unwanted” labels. They confirm old scripts. But maybe I can choose to make it time to change those scripts…
I’m using a collection of quotes on solitude, and yesterday’s was:
I had already found that it was not good to be alone, and so made companionship with what there was around me, sometimes with the universe and sometimes with my own insignificant self, but my books were always my friends , let fail all else.
Joshua Slocum, Sailing alone around the world.
At first it was the bit about the books that struck me, as it chimed with my thoughts earlier this week about reading rather than surfing social media when I’m feeling lonely or bored. But as the day went on I found myself reflecting on the first part. Choice again. Am I Iago’s “I am myself alone” – or am I part of the whole, even if I go through the world in solitude? As I walked to the station, I was listing things that I’m a part of, belong to: my family; my local community; my city; my county; my country – and so on, radiating outwards. I’m part, if a loose part, of some friendship circles. Of the organisations I belong to. Of the online forums I subscribe to. Of the groups of people who have shared interests, even if we’re not working together on them. Of those who have similar political and ethical vews. And so on. Most of the time, that doesn’t mean I’m communicating with the people in these different groups, but there’s a sharing, something in common. Perhaps having a consciousness of all those links, basically seeing myself as connected rather than as isolated in that bubble, would help change my outlook and diminish the pain?