Week 7, Day 6 – Solitude

The choices for today were:

1.                  Write about what scares you about being alone. Remember to experience childhood fears and present day concerns.

2.                  Imagine being in your special place with your wise person, gazing into the waters. Let her explain to you how solitude will enhance your life, and what you could say to help yourself.

3.                  Make up a myth that tells you how you are comforted at night. Try cluttering on the word comfort and use some of the words in your myth. You might say a cloud comes from heaven to hold you and ______. Or perhaps a spirit of angels band together ________.

Generally, I love being alone. I value the time I have by myself. The peace. The quiet. I love it. As much as I love my wife, I love having my personal time with me. I love being able to curl up with a book or my laptop or my journal and just write or read or dream or envision or just be. There is a peace and a calm that comes when I am alone. While I love teaching and working with people, my time with me is restorative and rejuvenating. It is the single best gift I can give myself.

However, there are times when being alone does scare me. Those times come when it is not about me choosing to be alone. My guess is that some of this comes from a time I do not even remember well. But it used to bother me when nobody wanted to be around me because they didn’t like me. Being alone then made me feel sad and made me feel like I was not worth being friends with. And know sometimes I fear being alone when I am waiting on liftline to come pick me up. My greatest fear about being alone while waiting for liftline was that they would not come and then I would be sitting wherever in my wheelchair wondering how I was going to get home. That was my greatest fear.

This past Monday, the day I was supposed to write about this topic, my greatest fear came to be. I was sitting on the corner outside the coffee shop waiting for my bus to arrive. After having sat with my friend in 17-degree weather for 25 minutes waiting for the bus, I called only to be told I had missed the bus. According to them, it was sitting there at the corner and neither my friend nor I saw him and I missed the bus. So it left. When I asked if they could send another bus to bring me home. They said no, they didn’t have any more busses. When I asked, how I was supposed to get home, all I got was you missed your bus.

I felt like this little child for a moment. All I could hear was bad girl; you missed the bus and now you will have to stay out in the cold all night and maybe we will be nice and come bring you home tomorrow. It felt like a punishment and not the kind of solitude I want. It was like being sent to your room for doing something wrong, only this time I didn’t feel like I had done anything wrong.

In the midst of experiencing one of my greatest fears, I also came to experience this wave of love as friends came and put me in a car and my wheelchair in a pick up truck and brought us both home. When I came in the door to my house, it was like coming into it for the first time. It wasn’t like any other time I had come home. This time, coming home was so different. This time coming home felt like these welcoming arms and it as if my house was saying to me, welcome, you are safe.

I will never forget the kindness, generosity, and love of those who made sure I did not have to do solitary confinement on the streets of Rochester on a cold wintry night. This is not the kind of solitude I wish on anyone. Yet at the same time, I realized that there are so many in the world for whom that solitude is their day to day experience. I came to realize that they do not someone who will carry them off to safety. I had three prince charmings in my life that night; many others do not. 

I love solitude and appreciate it when it is a space I am entering into on my own. When it is being forced on me a punishment, it is not a space I want to be.