It shouldn’t hurt to be alone

But it does.

I’ve been away from here for months – that probably makes me an arsehole. Sorry.

New job, blah blah, big personal life changes, blah de blah, but no excuses.¬†The name of this blog is apt, no? ūüėČ

I’m sitting here alone wondering how I got ‘here’ and where everything is leading, and what it all means, and why the f*ck I seem so fundamentally ill equipped to be in my own company.

How cliché, right?  Рunadulterated navel gazing as the year ticker is about to click up.

happy new yearI’ve been lectured on the difference between loneliness and being alone, but I haven’t been able to separate the two very well. If you’ve cracked that, or even if you’re stymied like me, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

I’m decidedly not sorry at all for being alone. An AirAsia plane went down two days ago. Who the f*ck am I to feel sorry for myself?! So I’m not.

I’m just lonely. And confused by why I can’t seem to enjoy my own company.

Maybe it has something to do with a difficult childhood and genetics that have paved the way for a perfect storm of biochemical imbalance. But why should the act of being alone feel like taking an elevator down thirty two floors to the¬†depression basement? Perhaps being alone could be a buoying and freeing experience? Like jumping off the roof of a building as in The Matrix and realising you’re okay? Maybe. I’ve felt moments of that, and gratitude for glorious independence from the weight of compromise and people pleasing.

Maybe the reason I suck at being alone has something to do with how much I suck at being with others.

I’m either a crazy workaholic with manic social calendar or sit sadly by myself in quiet and isolation, paralysed by some kind of fear I can’t quite put my finger on.

If I were Goldilocks I’d run back and forth between the icy cold and piping hot bowls ‘ouch ouching’ all the way instead of settling for the safer middling option.

goldilocks 3 bowlsWhy a person of extremes? Born into it perhaps. Molded by a life of extreme events. I crave the adrenaline and excitement and the counterpoint of solitude because I can’t sprint all of the time. But the solitude is often an uneasy break from life and is rarely for pleasure. The ‘safe’ option seems worse though – living in moderation seems to provoke greater anxiety and disquiet than all the terror of being alone.

Spiritual leaders, mental health experts, self-help gurus chant about the importance of ‘balance’ but I don’t know how to be alone only a little. I’m either with you or I’m not. I’m either in the company of others or I’m not. Dividing time equally has been an elusive accomplishment.

Maybe trading a life partner for independence (and possibly a chance at a ‘better’ relationship) is just running on a hamster wheel and whatever I do the chances for moments of joy will be the same depending on my capacity for gratitude.

hamster wheel

Maybe it’s supposed to¬†hurt a lot to be alone. And it’s supposed to hurt a lot to be with others. Maybe that’s a fact of living to accept as the down payment on a chance at those fleeting moments of tender connection and sweet independence.

The real problem could be my low tolerance for the trade offs. An emotional greed for more ups than downs has created a false sense of entitlement.

So here’s a different kind of new year’s cheers –

Here’s to 2015, a year that will be lonely, and difficult, and painful, and fast paced, and exciting, and interconnected, and here’s to acceptance of its peaks and valleys as they are, rather than as I would wish them to be.

peaks and valleys

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The stealthy writer

The man sitting across from me on the train this morning was obviously a writer. He pulled out his notebook and scribbled in fits and starts, breaking only to stare intently at the people squeezed in around us. After an hour of watching him watching others, and surreptitiously admiring his collection of observations and sketchy drawings, I asked him, “what are you writing this morning?”
traintracks

You know what he said? Eyes wide in terror or arrogance, I couldn’t tell, he said, “Oh, I’m just a PA [personal assistant] and… uh… forgot my laptop and so I’m writing lists.” Bollocks!

 
What inspired him to lie? The jig was up but he clung to his stealth.

He wasn’t the shy sort, so perhaps he wanted to avoid liability because his scathing observations will appear in a blog post or book. Maybe he was cooking something to rival the women who eat on tubes¬†fiasco? Ha!

His behavior begs the question, would you admit to being a writer? Is it something you positively identify with or try to bury beneath your other assets?

Whatever his reasons, he was no writing ninja. And I’m a bastard for reading his work. ūüėČ

Change

This new project is stretching me in ways I’d never imagined. It’s terrifying and wonderful and overwhelming.

change treeI can feel my brain adjusting neural pathways as its pushed to produce strange connections at faster speeds. There’s a soreness in my soul as its pulled in different directions, increasing my flexibility and resilience.

This is what growth feels like.

It’s not the warm and fuzzy expansion that self-help sites praise, as though we’re cocooned in soft silk before metamorphosis and gentle fluttery emergence.

No, this is the systematic breaking down of the very fabric of my being, as life hurriedly reforms me with the finesse of a toddler reshaping a cracking lump of Play-Doh. The older I get, the more cracks accrue and the more pieces fall away, but I’m still changing. And therein lies the beauty of this messy business.

My change is eternal. My atoms will reassemble after death and continue their shapeshifting until the end of time. Perhaps our experience of change is the closest we get to immortality.

I’ve started a new project

I get on the train at sunrise, and get on again at sunset. But the fickle pen will find time to rise again this weekend! Stay tuned

In the meantime, here’s a wonderful quote to inspire you and explain why I’m on a new assignment this month!

tend your garden

 

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”

— Robert Tew