Archives for posts with tag: solitude

I could start with “I’m sipping my coffee…”, but I haven’t tasted it yet. It’s sitting here, hot, ready – too hot to drink, so perhaps not entirely ready. There’s probably a metaphor there, maybe one worth considering with great care.

It’s a rainy spring morning. I don’t mind the rain, so it isn’t the rain that has soured the start to this particular day… it’s just weather. So are these tears. Just emotional weather. Some mornings the challenges of making life in a share space with another human primate are emotionally difficult, frustrating, and push hard on every shred of resilience I’ve got. Living alone often requires more laborious work just getting everything done, but it does not require so much emotional work. It’s work that has to be done, in either case. Just work. Omg, though, some days I really just want to take things easy… where’s the fucking “easy” button around here??

My Traveling Partner comes in, rubs my shoulders and my neck, and says kind, tender words. It helps for a moment. I relax into his love. That helps, too. Love matters. As with other things requiring effort, avoiding the work involved in creating enduring love only results in love not enduring after all… so… we work at it. Humans being human. My partner knows this; he’s pretty skilled at love, generally. Still human. Very. We both are. We have shared much with each other over a decade, learned a lot (both of us) about love and loving, and living our life together while also taking steps to be the human being we each most want to be. There’s a lot of joy in this journey. Some stumbles. Some sorrows. Sometimes things seem quite complicated, other times very straightforward; I’m rarely certain whether the complexity of any given circumstance is self-imposed or imposed upon us.

I sip my coffee thinking about love – now that my coffee is cool enough to drink. I take a moment to give myself some credit for the pure ferocious sheer will-to-change (and grow and improve) that is characteristic of the way I love… and the frustration and resentment that can sometimes result from those efforts, if the result is successful (meaning the desired change was made), but… inadequate (in that it did not have the desired result). I have, over years and relationships, grown weary of being willing to change. It’s not fair to my current relationship that the baggage I’ve picked up over the years weighs us down, now. It’s just the nature of “baggage” to function in that way; it takes still more will to set that shit down and move on.

…This is a good cup of coffee…

I sigh aloud in this quiet room. It sounds louder than it is. I think about the day ahead, looking forward to an errand that needs to be run, trying to sort out my thoughts such that I don’t return home to discover there was one other thing that needed doing, or picking up from somewhere. Lately, I often feel as if I “can’t hear myself think”, or as if I’m struggling to hang on to a thought, however engaging, if there is any hint of a distraction of any sort at all. I sometimes feel as if I am being distracted from what I’m thinking about by the thing I am doing that I am thinking about. I only know one thing that seems to sort that sort of cognitive chaos out properly; solitude. My mental “buffers” are full, and in spite of sleeping decently well, I’m just not managing to process everything…and now my headspace is all clogged up with bulging random thought-clobs of garbage and jumbled nonsense, and it’s hard to finish any new thought at all. Or – so it seems to me, subjectively, as an internal experience.

It was August 2019 when I last went camping… perhaps I am overdue?

It’s lovely to have a home I can call my own. It’s especially nice to share this experience with my Traveling Partner… but I guess I still need what I need as this human creature that I am. Maybe it’s time to get out into the trees again, to sleep under the stars, to wonder with awe at my mortal fragility in a wilder world, to face my doubts and fears in a place from which there is no turning away from answering “the hard questions” in life? I didn’t camp at all in 2020 – pandemic closed the places that are my regular favorites, and later resulted in astonishing crowding at those that opened back up. I’ve had my vaccination… perhaps it’s time to plan a long weekend somewhere solo camping? I’ve had this thought several times, but each time I explored the idea further, it was clear that crowding in a lot of favorite spots is still an issue, and seriously the entire point is to get the fuck away from other human beings and the sounds coming out of their face holes, and yeah, even to get away from their mere presence in my awareness. Proper solitude can be hard to come by (and not everyone enjoys it – nothing wrong with you if you don’t!).

Coffee half-gone, thinking productively about how best to meet some of my emotional needs without placing a burden on my partner (who is also stretched thin emotionally by the challenges of pandemic life, himself), and how to be a better partner to him, myself; I’m feeling less weighed down by frustration and sadness. Work is work. Some things take quite a lot of it. Some challenges are more complicated – and often, as a result, more rewarding once overcome. Still, the journey, itself, is the destination; if I get hung up on outcomes and task completion, I lose so many opportunities to live joyful moments. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of random bullshit pinging on my consciousness. Another breath. Another moment…

…Another opportunity to begin again. 🙂

I am sitting quietly at the end of my work day, listening to rain falling into the trees and onto the pavement of an untraveled roadway. The sun is streaming through the window of my studio. These things exist because they can. The rain is falling on video, a pleasant enough way to drown out background noise during the work day, but now, at the end of the work day, it’s not necessary. I turn it off, and take off my headphones. Still a sunny afternoon beyond the window. Lovely hints of spring all along the boughs of the pear trees on the other side of the fence. It’s quiet here. I am actually entirely alone for this moment; my Traveling Partner has made a rare trip out of the house during this pandemic, and with great care. He needs the social time with a friend (who is not me) and I need the solitude every bit as much. It works out well.

…I breathe… exhale… sip my water… relax…

The heat comes on for a few minutes. It reminds me that beyond this window and these walls it is still (what passes for) winter here. I smile and listen to the quiet, feeling it sink into me, filling me up with softness and peace. I let my mind wander, and bring it back to my breath. I breathe awhile, then wander the house on soft feet, feeling the sensation of being in this place, wrapped in silence and solitude, and everywhere I look reminded of love.

…I breathe… exhale… have another swallow of cold refreshing fizzy water… I relax as this moment becomes the next…

…How satisfying and comfortable is solitude? I smile, and my mind veers off that path and onto another. The work day is ended… the sun is shining… maybe a walk? A soak in the hot tub? Quiet time with a good book?

…What a lovely gift this solitude is… and a choice moment to begin again. 🙂

This cup of hot coffee tastes well-made, and satisfying. An early hour for it. I woke this morning, ahead of the alarm clock, alone. The morning unfolds quietly, gently, without any fuss. It could be any morning. How does it feel so very different, simply lacking the (sleeping) companionship of my Traveling Partner? The subtle shift in my awareness accounts for that, I suppose; I am not dedicating a portion of my awareness to continuously maintaining consideration for another human being, asleep in another room. I sip my coffee, contentedly. No loneliness this morning, just quiet.

He departed yesterday, some time after I left for work. We’d had our morning coffee together, quietly, contentedly. There wasn’t much to talk about; the planning had been skillfully done, the car was packed, the day was ordinary in most other regards. We sat together, waking slowly, gathering our thoughts, forming our intentions, sipping our coffee. I enjoyed the moment a great deal, and it became a happy platform upon which the day ahead would be built. After an ordinary enough work day, I returned home. All so very beautifully mundane, so easy to overlook the tremendous warmth and affection that infused it, like the strawberries in the infused water in the office – subtle and mild, and quite lovely.

Work was work. Summer flowers are blooming everywhere. The day passed quickly.

…I’ve no idea how any of that was so tiring, really, nonetheless; I had little energy or interest in doing things after work. I got home, more thirsty than hungry, and after quenching my thirst with many glasses of water, and enjoying a few minutes of conversation with my Traveling Partner, (once he arrived at his destination, for the night, moments after I got home, myself) I went to bed. I don’t think it was even 7:30 pm, yet. lol I didn’t “read awhile”, or meditate, or toss and turn; I was sound asleep within some few brief minutes after laying down. My sleep was deep and satisfying. I woke gently – to the sound of a chat notification on my phone, of all things (had I really left the ringer turned up??). When I checked my phone, there was no message, no notification, no sound – and the ringer was off, phone set to Do Not Disturb, for the hours between 11pm and 6am. lol I dreamt the sound. Just time for a new day, I guess.

It feels luxurious to get up, turn on a light without concern about waking someone else, and move through the details of my morning routine unconcerned by clumsiness, or someone else’s needs, just focusing on starting my day well, and caring for myself. I make a point to savor the things about living alone that I enjoy so much; there will be ample time to “appreciate” the things about being alone that are less pleasant, and I will make room for them in my heart, too, and hopefully grow from those experiences, and learn more, better ways to love and to share space. I sip my coffee, and consider the differences between living alone, and living with someone. I take a moment to fully appreciate having a partnership that so skillfully supports my need for solitary time. My Traveling Partner “gets me”, and I feel very loved.

…I take a moment to appreciate the way we “choose” this partnership, every day.

Sometimes our path is illuminated. Sometimes we walk our mile in darkness.

….Mmm… This is a very good cup of coffee. I find myself hoping my partner’s morning cup of coffee is similarly good, and smile at the first hints of day break showing through my studio window. So far, a pleasant morning. 🙂

There’s little truly shareworthy content in this quiet morning, beyond the quiet itself, and that’s only worth sharing if I consider it in the context of yearning for quiet and not finding it, or lacking any conviction that the quiet is worth experiencing, or… well, it’s all very subjective, I guess I’m saying, and not exciting, or the sort of thing that great adventure builds from. I’m just here, now. It is morning. I am content. By itself, quite worthwhile, and exceedingly achievable, with some verbs, and open communication, expectation-setting, self-care, and a well-chosen partnership. Nothing about that is “easy” or without effort. All of it is within reach, based on choices, generally. Real life happens. That’s a thing. I remind myself to be grateful for these easy-feeling moments, and to savor this quiet morning; life can be chaotic. Struggle is real. The wheel turns. This, too, shall pass.

…My coffee nearly finished off, I notice I’ve let myself become distracted by thoughts of work, already. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let that go – it creeps back, anyway. I sigh, and laugh out loud, disturbing the stillness. I check the time, and decide to get an early start on the day; this moment is as good as any to begin again. 🙂

I spent last night sick, and disinclined to write. Tonight, although I was in quite a lot of pain and my traveling partner was feeling somewhat unwell, we spent a handful of hours hanging out. I am still smiling. I’m inclined to say more – certainly the evening is on my mind. I don’t know that I have the words.

Sometimes when I hang out with someone, I walk away from the interaction still feeling very much that we are strangers. Other times – other people – it is easy to connect deeply, to be open and comfortable, to be easy with each other, and walk away afterward feeling closer, and feeling connected. This evening was more than just a pleasant good time together. We spoke intimately on difficult topics, shared our emotions comfortably, and gently, and when we said good-bye at the end of the evening I felt heard, and I felt I knew a little more about my partner’s heart than I did before. I even felt a little more well-understood, myself.

It was an ordinary enough evening when it started. Then, somewhere midway through some possibly completely unrelated bit of conversation, he said…something.  My eyes filled with tears, and his filled with puzzlement. “You said the ‘L word’, I replied, trying to smile. “Loneliness,” I continued, “I’m not very good at talking about it.” I struggled to regain my composure (there really wasn’t anything wrong at all) and explained that for some reason, just hearing the word “loneliness” has the potential to cause my eyes to tear up. He looked at me with such love and empathy. There was no hint of awkwardness, or strain. We talked awhile about loneliness in general, and in our own experiences in life. We talked about solitude, and the things that differentiate those experiences one from the other. It was beautiful. I feel comforted, and supported. I feel loved.

The listening thing is huge. It wasn’t obvious whether or not my traveling partner felt it too. I’ve been practicing ‘listening deeply’; I find the most elegant and lovely explanation in a favorite book on mindful love (How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh).  The extraordinary intimacy of the conversation, and the evening, was quite wonderful. Comfortable. Easy. The result? A very secure feeling of loving and being loved.

Love.

Love.

I don’t have much of real value to share about tonight; I am wrapped in love, and inclined to relax, feet up, just smiling. Maybe for a while. Some evenings, I sit in the twilight and I wonder. Tonight, I sit in the twilight and marvel.

I like the comfortable safety of solitude. I know being alone is a different experience for each of us; for me solitude feels safe, calm, and vastly soulfully nourishing. The few times my anxiety has found me when I was solitary, it has been likely to be driven by fearfulness of others in my periphery, undetected, or uninvited, or imminent. In my worst freak outs, the best thing that can be done in the moment is provide me with solitude and stillness; for years I did not understand how easy it could be to calm me. I have the weekend to be solitary. I need this time very much right now; grieving is hard on the one grieving, and harder still, perhaps, on those near who are not themselves grieving, but cannot stem the flow of tears. I prefer to grieve in solitude, although… I like hugs a lot, when I’m crying…so…there’s that. Human beings are social creatures. I am, myself, even fairly ‘extroverted’…but I do love solitude, and crave substantially more of it than many people seem to…and rarely have enough.

This weekend my partners are away at a festival. I find myself smiling and wishing them well; I hope it is amazing. Work changed my plans and I am staying home. At this point in the week, I am not regretting the change. Festival attendance hardly seems appropriate to grieving – at least not for me. This week the world lost a young woman with all the potential in the world, and an entire future ahead of her. She was just 13. My cousin’s daughter. Yesterday, an Army buddy moved on to something beyond his mortal existence, at 60-something, having completed his mission in some sense, I suppose. I am not ashamed to grieve these losses. I still go to work. This is my way; in the midst of grief I grab onto what is practical and routine, and hold on to it. I tidy the house after work very attentively and mindfully, cherishing the sensations of touch, the subtle feel of space I am in, the motions of cleaning, straightening, moving from task to task. I commute, enjoying the sensations as summer shifts gears to fall, and people-watching with a curious and open heart. I work. Task after task, I follow each small routine of work and life with greater than usual care, walking a sort of emotional balance beam. As I do, I consider life and death, and grief, and honor the departed in my own way, silently eulogizing them, honoring the memories of shared experiences, questioning, reflecting, and celebrating what they brought to my experience. I am very aware of my mortality and the brevity of life when I grieve. This is my way. There are highs and lows, of course. It’s a process. There are tears. These are emotional experiences. It’s difficult, but feels fairly natural to me, the sense of loss, the hurting, the contemplation…and the pain diminishes over time. I am satisfied with the way I grieve. I suppose, now that I’m over 50, that’s going to come in handy.

Here it is the Friday ahead of a solitary weekend. Here in this still moment I am content and serene. This ‘now’ is just fine, thank you. I will be, too. It’s a choice, and there are verbs involved.

Grieving is a very human experience.  Detail of "Emotion and Reason" 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas w/ceramic and glow, photographed in dim light. 2012

Grieving is a very human experience.
Detail of “Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic and glow, photographed in dim light. 2012