Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Factor of One

So the biggest shift for me in the new place, other than the happy duck shower curtain, is of course that it's nothing but me in there. So far I'm OK with this, but I've already noticed myself acting differently in small ways. On weekends in the late afternoon as the light is fading and the November golds and pinks tinge the clouds, I've been sitting with a cup of tea and watching the sun go down from the kitchen window. As the light fades, I'll light a candle. That's it. I just sit there. I never really did that in previous places. When I needed a break I would hide in my room which usually means a nap rather than sitting and doing nothing. I guess for the first time I am comfortable being still. Perhaps I've always been a bit self-conscious about doing nothing, always wanting to appear busy and productive to others.

There are a couple of books out there on the subject of solitude. Although I wasn't too excited to read it on the train where all my fellow passengers might think I was a complete misanthrope, I thought the book, Intimacy and Solitude by Stephanie Dowrick, was pretty good reading. And I have Jonathan Franzen's How to Be Alone on the list although I don't think it is really meant to be instruction. Then of course, there is Bowling Alone, a book by Robert Putnam about how fewer Americans are doing things in groups, reducing their "social capital." I suppose my choice to have my own apartment contributes to this trend.

However, as several friends have pointed out, having my own place makes it more likely I will seek out time with friends as opposed to just seeing them when I happen to do so. And if I get lonely, as my friend who is an expert in social networking tells me, I can simply pick up the phone. Sometimes I ponder a pet. A cat? A fish? A bird? But for now I am OK. I am trying on this new way of being and seeing how it feels. It will be interesting to watch how it affects my art as well. So. I guess this is what you might call an anti-social experiment.

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