Welcome to my blog dear Reader! This is my first time out of the blogging gate, so I’m a bit nervous about all of the things that first-time bloggers are probably nervous about — Will anyone read my blog? — Is the subject relevant? — Why do I feel compelled to do this anyway? I hope, if you are reading this, that you will come back time and time again to check-in and become part of what I think is an important and timely conversation about being alone. Yes, alone. By yourself. Solo. On your own. Table-for-one kind of alone. This conversation is going to be about “doing” alone on purpose, in a way that I call “aloneing™.”
The idea for the aloneing™ blog and its companion website came from an experience I had in Cape Town, South Africa, one of my stops on a round-the-world trip I took in 2008.
One morning, I stopped to have a look in a craft barn that featured work by local artists. At one of the booths in the craft barn, I struck up a conversation with a woman in her late 70s. After some pleasantries, the woman asked me what I was doing in Cape Town. I told her that Cape Town was one of my stops on the around-the-world trip to which I treated myself that year. She asked me if I was traveling alone, and I acknowledged that in fact I was. The woman jumped off of her chair and stood back, clearly flabbergasted. Quickly, she explained that she had always admired women “like [me]” who “do things by themselves.” Over the next forty minutes, the woman asked me about various scenarios, and wanted to know if I did those things alone (like going to movies and restaurants). When I responded in the affirmative, she wanted to know details — “How do you stand?” — “Where do you sit?” — “What do you bring along?”. She had many questions about the things I do by myself — her questions focused mostly on the details and logistics of how I do them. She told me that she was married, and had been for all of her adult life. She said that she did everything with her husband, and enjoyed doing things with him, but often fantasized about doing some things by herself. In almost a whisper, she shared with me that a couple of weeks before we met, she had gone to a movie by herself one afternoon. I asked her how it felt for her to do that. She said that she enjoyed it very much. She relayed that as she exited the movie theater, the full realization of what she had just done hit her, and she cried — from joy and pride in doing something she had always wanted to do. I reflected on my conversation with this woman a little more than a year later. At that time, I was trying to come up with a writing project. A writer’s mantra was running through my mind like a ticker tape — “write what you know . . . write what you know . . . write what you know.” I know about alone-ness I thought. And I know how I trained myself to not let my alone-ness stand in the way of my experiencing what I want and need in life. My conversation with the South African woman wasn’t the first time I had been grilled by friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers about how to do this or that a-l-o-n-e — and not just women, men have often engaged me in conversations about it too. So, I looked up “being alone” on Google. What I found were sites that help people escape being alone, or commiserate on how horrible it is to be alone. I looked up solitude, and found sites focused on esoteric, spiritual aspects of being alone. There were sites that equated alone-ness with loneliness, or some pathetic state. I was thinking about a different experience, so I decided to make up my own word to fit a concept that brought a married woman in her 70s to tears from the sheer joy of it. There are times when we just want to do some things on our own, by ourselves, for ourselves. When we choose to honor that, we find that we do that thing or things in good company. That is what I call aloneing™.
Now aloneing™ is not just for people who are single! I have learned some of my best aloneing™ skills from married or “coupled” people. I would go so far as to say that people who are good at aloneing™ tend to also be good in relationships, including marriage.
Visit my companion website, aloneing.com often — it will soon feature ideas, resources, and inspiration for successful aloneing™.
Thanks for dropping in! Now, let the conversation begin!