I Went Nowhere

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I’ve been on vacation this week and spent it getting reacquainted with my old friend, solitude. After making breakfast and packing lunches and smoothies for my loved ones, I sent them off with a kiss to their jobs and my pup and I stayed home.

I love my gal and my guy but I cherish solitude. I love my job requiring me to talk to people but going a whole day without speaking to a soul is bliss. I’m overdue for visits with many beloved friends but I made no plans for lunch or coffee. This week, I indulged my neglected introvert.

Just for fun I took one of those goofy online tests to see whether I am an introvert or extrovert. I’m both. I love meeting new people, talk easily and with pleasure with anyone — but my need for solitude is important enough for me to get out of bed ridiculously early so I have some time alone. I’m grateful my loved ones are big sleepers more inclined to stay in bed till noon than worry about getting any worms. Mornings belong to Tetley and me and even he usually goes back for a nap after his quick morning outing.

During this week’s abundance of alone time, I did experience some pangs. I remembered the other side of the coin: the loneliness of being alone. It’s a fine line. In my pre-family past, when I lived alone, I often felt an ache of longing – to have someone in my life, wanting love, to be wanted, needed. Rarely did I own up to this, sure it was a sign of weakness, of being a loser, of not fitting my self-image – or at least the one I hoped to cultivate. I’d take lovers anyone else could spot would not be right for me, sure they’d fill the spot I’d reserved. With varying degrees of drama, these affairs crashed and burned. I marveled at my mated friends – envied their sense of being a unit even when they squabbled. Okay, then maybe not so much – I know how lonely it can be even when someone is sleeping next to you.

I used to hate the feeling of loneliness. Now I recognize the pangs of desolation as first steps on the road to where I like to be, as a sign I’m going in the right direction on the way to get somewhere interesting. It may be tough to climb the mountain, but how great the view is. I understand better how to dive into this place of alone.

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Being good at solitude is a little like a muscle and if you don’t use it, you lose it. For me, it’s the same group of muscles I use to create. My best work grows from a quiet place deep within me – a whole different terrain than the day to day business of being in the world, going to my job, being an extrovert. Like all of my muscles, I want to keep this one limber, the one that gets me to a quiet place where I can best hear what’s really going on.

It was a good week. I went nowhere.

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11 Responses to I Went Nowhere

  1. Once again, this post had a lot of resonance for me. I too am comfortable being an extrovert, but overall, I need and crave my introverted side — even when I feel the pangs of loneliness that sometimes come with that side of me.

    I understand and love the title of his post: you may have literally gone “nowhere” during this week of vacation, but it sounds like you indeed went “somewhere” quite wonderful.

  2. Forgot to ask: where is the location of that gorgeous second photo?

  3. Tricia says:

    This is Horse Barn Hill on the campus of University of CT. Not close enough but whenever I’m up that way, I visit. The closest thing I’ve seen to what you’ve got in your beautiful part of the country — incredible fields that seem to disappear into the sky.

  4. Lea Sylvestro says:

    It is no surprise we connected so quickly…I love this reflective piece on the joy of solitude and it’s downside, loneliness. So many of your thoughts mirror mine. I have not done much writing over these summer weeks with Dave home, but HE is the one encouraging me to stay with my morning routine of exercises and prayers….The photograph is beautiful. So glad you’ve had such a restorative break! XO

  5. The difference between you and me is that you head to Horse Barn Hill and I get sidetracked at the ice cream shop. It’s kind of rural, and yet… Seriously, this is a good reminder. 🙂

  6. Tricia says:

    Haha! I DID think to call you, my friend, because we are due, don’t you think? X

  7. I too get a lonely ache, especially when I think of friend who left my life, until I remember how many good friends I do have. There are even some new ones entering my life. Henri Nouwen’s Reaching Out talks about turning loneliness into solitude. It has been deeply helpful to me in the same way this essay is. Solitude is a place that allows us to deeply listen to our people as well as our stories. Thanks for being there.

  8. Tricia says:

    Thank you for this lovely comment – as always! I’ll look for Nouwen’s book. xxx

  9. LaVagabonde says:

    I love that second photo. The empty road. I also need solitude, and I’ve traversed points in my life where I’ve been overwhelmed with loneliness. Sounds like a wonderful week.

  10. Tricia says:

    I can imagine running into you as a traveler and connecting for a cup of tea as kin spirits. Anyway, nice to do it in cyber space.

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