Monday, May 30, 2016

the Art of being Alone

Opinion: being alone is one of the hardest, but most rewarding things we can do.

Our culture fosters a co-dependance on others. A need to socialize, over-communicate, and constantly be in touch. The thing about being alone is that you have no where to hide, no one to hide behind, or facade to creep under. You just have yourself, your thoughts, and whatever it is that you are doing with your time.

I find it healthy to spend large amounts of time alone. It gives me the opportunity to really explore my own mental and emotional inner landscapes.

I vividly remember being devastated after a break up with a boyfriend about 5 years ago. I wanted to find someone else to date because I was so lonely. I was afraid of being just with myself— I had forgotten who I was without that other person. I realized at that time that what I needed most was exactly what I was afraid of. I needed to be alone. I needed to find myself again. I needed to learn to love myself again. Because the truth was, if I couldn't love myself, take care of myself, and be good to myself by myself, then I couldn't be a good partner. It was then I realized the importance of maintaining my own identity no matter what the circumstance. I realized to have a truly healthy relationship I had to first take care of and love myself. I had to be comfortable and confident in my own skin— always.

The following months of solo time— gardening, reading, working, budgeting, reading more— really allowed me to set a foundation for who I was and who I would always be. I worked on my personal mission statement. I built up the unchange-able foundation within me.

Fast forward to roughly 5 years later— those foundations that I built still guide me daily.

After moving to Cooke City, I now spend even more time alone. When I lived in Bozeman I felt that I had to almost seek out alone time. I was constantly surrounded by people, be it roommates, co-workers, or friends. But here, when Beau is gone, if I don't make a big effort, I spend the majority of my days solo. It's allowed me to delve even deeper into my inner landscapes and begin working on my foundation of perception— the ways in which I intake information and subsequently see the world around me. I've been reading a book by Delores LaChapelle exploring the roots of our language and culture and how those things have had a huge subconscious effect on our development in the western world (both culturally and individually). It causes one to question, for example, "I see this landscape— what do I immediately think, assume, conclude about it?" I could go on, but I'm not yet capable of putting my thoughts on the research into words even close to as eloquent as the late, great Delores.

I suppose the moral I'm trying to write about and impart is the value of being alone, and embracing the discomfort and fear of that naked emotional space. Like going camping in the woods by yourself, the first night you are terrified, but after a few days you sleep better than you've ever slept before. You begin to realize and understand that the world is not out to get you, but in fact, you are just a small part of a complex, ever-changing landscape. The howling coyote begins to sound like a friend, and the wind becomes a companion. All the senses that we learn to 'shut off' in the hustle and bustle of the city begin to re-awaken. When we close our mouths, we learn to hear, see, and feel with our other senses— consequently allowing us to feel more alive. And although this can feel strange and foreign at first, it is actually exactly how we are meant to be— culturally we've just forgotten, and become lost in space and time.