Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I live alone. I wake up alone with my dreams and unfinished conversations, and all the rest of the consequences of accumulating years. Every morning I pad out to the kitchen to brew coffee and then sit quietly in the dark window, watching the sky grow lighter, listening to the radio. This morning the routine shifted subtly as I listened instead to a haunting and graceful CD by cellist Zoe Keating. Since it's a workday, after an hour I had to shower and get ready, but music drifted softly through the rooms as I dressed and made my lunch, a tuna sandwich and an apple, and poured the rest of the coffee into a thermos. Locking the front door on my way to the bus, I often have a sense of disappointment that I'm not staying home, lengthening out the peace inside.
I envy women who have the ease of a satisfying marriage, the reliable company and interest of someone who matters, and most enviable of all, the added income from a second earner in the house! It's natural to get lonely when solitude is so reinforced. Silence is silence. Nothing filling the air but one-sided community from the television, internet or radio, but sometimes even that false offering is a relief. I have the frequent balm of friendships and meaningful work, my life is not bleak in the least! But solitude can become isolation quickly when you allow others' expectations of your self-sufficiency to rule your own priorities and beliefs, and don't give yourself permission to go slower, be kinder to yourself. I am learning this lesson daily.
What's really hard is filling all that quiet solitude with purpose, instead of collapsing at the end of a 10-hour workday (actually 12 hours, portal-to-portal) and letting the television dictate my attention until I'm barely awake enough to send myself to bed.
What's really hard is returning to my own thoughts and ideas--allowing them to recirculate to the surface of my conscious mind, and out through the ends of my fingers onto the page--when I'm exhausted and my hands are stiff.
What's really hard is doing it anyway. And you know what? I did it. My book is finished and now with the publishers. And I have another idea for a book, so my mornings will still be softly, personally my own private conversation with memory and music and ideas, dreaming images for my camera. And my evenings will be whatever I can make them. And sometimes that's really hard.