First, I love silence and cherish being alone. I seek out times to reflect and figure things out. Praying and listening and putting pieces together out of apparent chaos. Playing Jenga in reverse.
But there’s a limit. What is therapeutic in healthy doses can be fatal in large, and that needs to be written on every bottle of silence and stamped on every box of alone. They’re good for what ails ya, but they’ll pummel you to your knees with frightening fury if you take too much.
Some people love being alone. They celebrate singlehood or divorce like wearing a new jacket. I can see that. There is something liberating about being able to leave your socks around (I actually don’t do that much) or leave the toilet seat up (I actually don’t do that either) or watch whatever you want on TV (again, not me much). It can be kind of cool some days to just go for a walk (I do that) or play whatever music you want (I do that constantly) or have Radiohead and Rachmaninoff on the same playlist (that would be me). Yes, being on your own opens you up, but nothing is more confining than freedom taken too far.
Sometimes we all need someone who is there just because he or she wants to be there if there is where you are. Someone who can be ridiculous and laugh with you until you’re both sore, and who can listen as you pour out your heart when your heart has gone liquid. Someone to just hold you and tell you it’s going to be okay… or it’s not but you’ll get through it together. And someone for whom you can be there in all those same times.
And sometimes we need someone to reel us in. To tell us it’s time to get back to the gym or we need to relax or to get those taxes done. Those aren’t the fun times, but they’re the ones that help us cling to some standards and save us from the really soul-crushing moments that will surely hunt us down when standards are sloughed.
I have been divorced for 13 years now. Never wanted to be, and I’m realizing I’ve never known how to be. I embrace silence and solitude, but castigate compulsory quietude. I keep looking ahead to the day when there will be someone here so we can share our heart stories at the end of a day, and write new ones together at the start of a day.
Silence is awesome and solitude rocks, but for lots of people today there’s just too much of a good thing. I think that’s one of the reasons therapists and psychologists are in such high demand these days. Many people turn to them for help and consolation when what they really want is to find a good friend and maybe some chocolate.
I’ve heard it said that married people live longer. I can see that. We all need someone to remind us to take care of ourselves, and someone we can take care of as well. I stay up too late. Almost every night. Usually working because I do love my work, designing websites or dreaming of a creative strategy or envisioning what a client’s brand should be. But pretty much every night I stop and wonder what it would be like to have someone to tell me it’s time to go to bed. To have someone to give me a reason to want to go to bed. I find it amazing to think that some people go home at the end of the day and get a hug from someone who loves them. I think it must be incredible to talk to someone and see excitement in their eyes because they care about your day and what you did. To just have someone, and to know that someone has you.
Now that would be awesome. No. That would be life-giving.