I don’t share much of my thoughts here.
I’m not good at (< hate when people say that. Because let’s face it, you can be good at almost anything if you really want it enough. Maybe you don’t think you can be, but I can be. My life has taught me that you can do pretty much anything when forced to, and if you flow and adapt and care at all, you might even do it well. As my grandfather said anyway, “Why do something at all if you aren’t going to do it right?”) So correction: I don’t care much for writing unless I feel there is something I want to say. You may notice that from my flickr or facebook comments if we’re contacts. I don’t write just to write, though that is great practice and maybe I’d care more for writing if I did that more often. I don’t like to write things that have already been said by someone else unless I feel I have an original thought to add. It has been said and read, who do I think I am to try and rewrite it?
And so after all that, you might think I have something grand to finally proclaim, but I hope I don’t disappoint to say that is not the case. I just have a few simple thoughts on which I’ve been ruminating the last couple of weeks thanks to Rosebud and all the time we’ve been spending together, making sure she is happy and healthy. I know, I know, she’s not a child, but having a puppy does mimic parenting to some extent. And what I’m rediscovering, as I do once about quarterly, is the importance of alone time.
Now, a little background on me, and this is important. I already know alone time is important. This is not news to me, having a puppy is certainly not the dawning of this for me. I remember feeling it when my friends felt the opposite, most of whom were and are so excited to have sleepovers, friends over all the time, then roommates, then live with their significant others, then have families. I grew up in a house where I wasn’t allowed to have friends over as often as most people I know, and I credit the person I am today with the alone time I had. In that time, I thought about who I was and what I wanted in life, starting the practice of introspection and metacognition at a young age. I learned how to be alone, which too few people ever do, but what happens if you have to be alone someday? You have to know how to deal, how to enjoy it, though technology might make it a moot point. I took almost a year in between the relationship I had before Andrew, even though I knew I wanted to be with him, just to get this alone time back. I’ve had near all nighters discussing “alone” with Andrew, and reading a book or two on the topic. Andrew and I have as the premise of our relationship that freedom comes first, and love will follow. Freedom for many things, one of which being time to oneself. All this to say, I get it (not so you can give me a pat on the back for my “wonderful self-awareness.” Don’t do that, I hate that crap, I’m not 15 anymore.)
However, if reality makes it difficult to get that time, or it is easier for one not to take that time, one loses sight very easily of how important it is. And then when you get some of it, the silence is more like a hallelujah chorus. It is like that feeling you get when you put on a favorite album from years ago that you haven’t listened to in ages and you go “eff yeah. why did i ever stop listening to this?!” It feels so good.
And what I think I’m learning more now is that there are ways to get it in small doses where “a little bit goes a long way.” Little rituals and routines throughout my day become meditative. Taking a little extra time to put on make up or fix my hair; venturing out, even just for groceries, on my own and remembering to attend to my breathing on the drive. Sometimes guilt creeps in, saying “but Cara, these things aren’t as important as being with the ones you love” and it seems true if you do a direct comparison. Extra minute for eyeliner vs watching Rosie learn that new trick Andy is out there teaching her? Doing a return at Target and stopping at the antique store for an hour vs cuddling with Andy because Rosie is finally napping? However the alone minutes and hours are not equal to their linear time, but rather jam-packed with all that good soul-filling stuff. They make me a better person for those I love when I return to them.
And more than that, I vow to get out in this beautiful area of the country for a hike or a photowalk and not make it a dog walk once or twice a week. I vow to excuse myself from the comforts of company into the comforts of music (currently Glen Hansard’s Rhythm and Repose, can’t get enough) and finish Bob Dylan’s autobiography, not in bed before sleep, but just sitting alone in a room.
And I guess if I write it here, maybe I’ll remember next time. Next time tensions are high, and I’m short with everything and everyone, snippy about a “how are you today?” Maybe someone will leave a comment here that day and bring me back to read this. And maybe not, but that’s okay, because I know how to be alone. And I know it is important.