You ever had that experience of not knowing where to put your hands and you don’t have pockets? You keep looking for the openings to hide your hands, but, they aren’t there, and your hands are sitting out in the open, exposed.
That’s what it used to be like for me to be alone. My whole body felt like exposed uncertainty. I would fill up the space with tons of activity and surround myself by people so I didn’t have to feel the itchiness, the desire for escape, the skin crawly discomfort of being by myself.
It took a lot of practice and endurance to embrace the silence and the void when on my own. I practiced hundreds of hours by sitting on a park bench, putting my phone away and looking at the landscape. I’d set a time limit and go about meeting my goal…….the goal to sit still, to not flee, to sit in the utter fear of what I might discover if I was alone and quiet. Other times, I’d walk somewhere near The Sound and listen to the waves as my thoughts rapidly fired through until they weren’t individual thoughts anymore, but a freight train passing by clicking each individual track over and over.
All this practice brought me to my deepest loneliness……the place I was trying to avoid. But when I got there, it wasn’t at all like I anticipated. It was still, it was peaceful….it was full of beauty, sadness, and years of experience. The more my practice brought me to this place, the calmer and more secure I felt and the lonely, sort of just left.
It’s not that I don’t ever feel lonely, it’s that I like it now….it’s my grandma’s crocheted blanket that I curl up in at the end of the day. It’s snuggling with the hounds and touching their velvety ears. Lonely is a good friend who washes in and away leaving a wonderful memory until they come back.
Now, my life is full of people and I long for the quiet alone times. I have to make time to be quiet by myself….no technology, just the sun on my face as I close my eyes and appreciate the life I have come to know. Being alone is a skill….one I’m glad to have developed……it is a necessary practice to teach you to listen a little deeper….to get to know yourself a little more.
Whether you are alone or surrounded by folks this New Year, take a few moments to be quiet, to tune in, to appreciate the ups and downs that we are fortunate enough to experience. Because sometimes you will hit the mat and other times you will get your arm raised, but all of the time, your experiences will shape you and take you further.