On Solitude
May 30, 2008, 4:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Tonight my spouse is off to the Midwest Yoga Conference, my daughter is in her bed asleep or close to it, and I am savoring the guilty pleasure of three nights to spend alone and unobserved, puttering around in my house. I can understand that this is not everyone’s idea of a party, but I am a classic introvert who requires a lot of recharging time to compensate for the fishbowl that is family life in a small living area with a boundary-impaired child. Almost half of our total living space is taken up by the basement, which is nice if you’re in the basement but not so great for the upstairs bedrooms. Not only are all three of our bedrooms down the same hall and essentially on top of each other, but the bathroom is directly across from this room, my bedroom and office. Sometimes when I sit on my bed and pack ebay orders, my daughter plops herself onto the toilet without bothering to close the door and gives me a friendly wave. Hello?

Most of the time I don’t mind all the activity, which is nothing too much more or less than I would expect in a house with a rambunctious kid and two busy adults. Still, I must confess that I do hungrily soak up these chances to recharge. A guilty pleasure of mine is to dream we might one day have a house with a space where I could retreat and refresh myself. This would preferably be at the top of a spiral staircase and have its own bathroom, with a jetted tub. While I am furnishing it, there would also be an ball chair, preferably mp3-capable. The ball chair has to be as good as it gets in the way of furnishings for introverts like me, or so one would think.

As much as I’ve learned to love and appreciate other people as the blessings that they are, I know I can think more clearly and dive more deeply into my own ideas when I’m alone and not subjected to what amounts to the externalized inner monologues of other people. I’m not sure how much of my introversion and love for solitude are hard-wired and how much might have developed as a result of my years of teenage pariah-dom. When you are essentially untouchable to your peers, you either learn to thrive in your own company or you crumble. I wasn’t about to crumble, and some years and after several years of middling angst I finally read Back to One by Sheldon Kopp and realized it was perfectly okay to be an introvert. The angst had mostly come from feeling pressure to be more social and not choke up in groups, but once I accepted myself as a happy introvert, I felt much more at peace in my relations with other people.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the kind of creative space that I dream of, but for now I know I’m lucky just to have this room. It is cluttered, but it’s mine and it has a door that closes. Tonight and for the next two nights, I can roam the house and putter and rearrange as I choose. I can focus on my projects with absurd and completely satisfying intensity, without having to explain a thing or jostle for space.  I can ponder my neuroses without nasal noises from across the hall, without the existence of which I would be just as neurotic but lacking in material to write about.  Clearly, I have much to be grateful for.

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