Thursday, June 07, 2007

alone vs lonely

There is a decided difference between being alone and being lonely. I have never had a problem being alone. Often I much prefer that to the constant attention needed when with someone. Being alone allows me the luxury of indulging myself by doing those things I want to do without having to share my indulgence with someone. My creative side requires a certain amount of aloneness to bear fruit. So being alone is not a hardship for me, but rather a welcome state much of the time.

Having established that, I recently have found myself more and more in a state of loneliness. I have found that I prefer having company more and more, when I used to regret the time spent with others as robbing me of “me” time. I attribute that new feeling of loneliness to the fact that since my retirement I have less and less contact with the world outside my home. When I was working, even though I often worked alone, I had a lot of daily contact with others, both clients and just people going about their business. That kind of contact was more than sufficient to satisfy my need for human interaction, so that time away from work became especially precious. Now that I spend most days alone at home I find that human interaction much more difficult to come by. And so I am feeling pangs of loneliness that were never there before.

In years past I would relish the opportunity to go to the cottage alone for a few days whenever there was a project there to work on or just to get away for awhile to recharge t he batteries. Being there alone was a real treat. That was the kind of being alone that I cherished. Now however, I find that going to the cottage and being alone there is less enticing. It’s often too damn quiet. The fact that I might not see another human being for a couple days weighs heavily on me. I no longer look for opportunities to escape to the cottage as a reward.

Yesterday I drove up to the cottage intending to stay until Friday. I went to cut the grass and take care of some piddling little maintenance chores that could wait if I really admitted it. I also expected to get in a round or two of golf. I am normally passionate about my golf game and will find any excuse to get to the course. However, yesterday, after finishing the grass cutting, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of desolate aloneness. Even the prospect of going to the golf course didn’t ease my sense of loneliness. All I wanted to do was get back in the car and drive back home where Mary would be available to talk my ear off. And so that’s what I did. I came home to escape being alone and suffering another bout of loneliness. And even though Mary is gone all day at school, knowing that she will be here before long is enough to make me feel less lonely during the hours I’m alone.

I obviously need to get out more. I need to find opportunities to be with people. My feelings of loneliness are easily cured if I will just break out of my comfort zone here at home. Besides, my golf game is really suffering and we can’t have that, can we.


Kat said...

How interesting Bob. As a writer, I'm always wallowing happily in my alone time - I had always looked foreward to retirement and its endless supply of completely people less hours. Sounds like we all need to plan for a balance of time alone vs time with people.

Wiccachicky said...

I go through phases like this too. During the semester, I'm strapped for time and get annoyed with people who intrude the little time that's left for me. But in the summer, I get a lot of "me" time -- and while I enjoy it for about the first month, it starts to wear off just about the time students are coming back to campus. :) Hope you get your energy charge from others so that you can be more productive when you're alone.