March 30, 2016

alone (adj., adv.)

One thing I’ve become acutely aware of over the last couple of weeks, which has been brewing over some time, is the intensity of my aloneness in the world. This sounds glum but notice I did not use the word loneliness.

Pining back to one of my favourite poets, John Donne, no man is an island. But in many ways, unless we can grow comfortable with floating about with ourselves in this vast universe, I don’t think we can really connect with others in a healthy way.
alone (adj., adv.) from Old English all ana “unaccompanied, all by oneself”
Apart from having a lot of time to myself in London surrounded by new friends, I’ve also spent some time by myself exploring other cities as well - cities like Vienna, Dublin, Berlin and Copenhagen. All these trips have involved visits with close friends, yet even so, I’ve still been quite aware of my unique, very personal, lone experience outside the shared experience, (which I of course cherish).
As I’ve gotten older and past my mid-twenties, I realized a noticeable shift towards relishing in experiencing things with myself. I value others no less; I think I just value myself more.

Even at times when my aloneness turns to loneliness, I remind myself I am not by myself. I remind myself I have a special moment - to be with myself. And these moments are truly sacred.
This is all quite opposite to how I once dealt with aloneness. I had fears of being alone for many years. And not necessarily fears of just being “alone" in life in general but of being “by myself” at any given time and space.
image
From an exhibit at the Tate Modern, "Performing for the Camera," exploring the ways in which we perform and manipulate who we are even in modes that appear to be realistic, voyeuristic, documentarian.

A very extroverted person, I put in many efforts to be constantly with and around people. It was always easy for me, as I don’t get anxious around new people, groups, and I find it rather easy - and enjoyable - to “organize” other people into my life. I’ve also been very fortunate to have a really strong circle of people around me to draw from, in my eager mission to share my time with others, preferably loved ones.

Of course, I didn’t just pull others in to share in joyous experiences. At times of difficulty, indecision, restlessness or anxiety, I’d instinctively reach straight out to a friend or parent to grasp them for blind support, to pull them in so that I didn’t have to feel out the situation all on my own - and at certain times, to drag them right down with me because I didn’t have the clear judgment required to allow them to pull me up.

Oftentimes, it would all turn unnecessarily dramatic or would sap us both of energy because I couldn’t present a fair picture of what was wrong. And why? Because I hadn’t spent any time really assessing the picture more objectively for what it truly was. Many times the problem was me rather than the situation, or at least, it was much more simple than it seemed from the centre of my emotional storm. And how are we to ever have this clarity if we don’t take a moment to reflect?

For some people it’s harder to make room for time to be with themselves, especially at times of difficulty. I was one of those people. But in some ways, being forced to take things on (physically) alone, by moving out alone a few years ago, moving away alone more recently, and moving around as a traveler alone in spurts over many years, has taught me to appreciate being by with myself. Mostly it’s because of the times when I didn't have the option to reach out to anyone. And what I’ve learned is that I’m more than adequate, enough, essential.

No one can bring more insight to an experience you are living than you. By taking moments to listen to our inner thought processes, by spending time observing our given situations, we build more perspective on the situation and on ourselves in it. In a way, we make ourselves the object rather than the subject.
ye (pron.) Nominative plural of 2nd person pronoun þu (thou); Interestingly, the article ye was in fact an archaic way of writing the (þe), where the “y” character replaced the “thorn” (þ, representing the sound “th”), to accommodate printers at the time.
I’ve learned to love to be with myself even when it’s tough. And I’ve learned to volunteer the time to be with myself and reflect, which has made me more attune to my feelings and where they’re really coming from. It enables me to find out what I can actually do about a difficult situation - if anything - before I engage someone else. And if I find that I can’t figure it out on my own, I know I am far more likely to be objective - and receptive - about another’s opinion when I do reach out.

National Express bus from Luton, March 28th, 9:55pm.
Originally posted on life.actually.tumblr.com.


shorthand (n.)