Sunday, August 15, 2010

In search of self

Please pardon this entirely personal and self-involved post.  My previous post has triggered a flurry of introspection and personal analysis.  It's not new, it's a process that has been going on for several years since becoming single and living entirely alone for the first time in my life.  But some aspects of a personality analysis (and comparisons to that of my most recent boyfriend) has brought me to an amazing conclusion: I don't want to be alone.  Some people are very happy to be alone with little social interaction, but I am not one of them.

The old BF, now in Minnesota, and I had a long chat on the phone last night about that and many other things.  We are both certainly in transitional places in our lives - and it's a strange place to be in your 60's.  He is one of those people who requires very little social interaction.  He values solitude and spends a great deal of time simply pondering.  As a result, he comes up with some of the most profound and astute observations.

I admire this quality in him so much, I have tried to incorporate more solitude and contemplation in my own life.  You'd think that would be easy since I live alone and I work at home nearly all the time.  My children are in and out, but they have busy lives and don't spend a lot of time here.  My closest friends have had a summer of heavy responsibilities and we have spent less time together than we are accustomed to.  And of course, J moved away in May and I have not sought out a new relationship.  So I have achieved aloneness in a big way. 

But though I'm alone, I've been less successful than I'd like to admit at embracing solitude and contemplation.  I do spend time sitting on my patio just soaking up the beauty there.  But I'm afraid I get distracted by the hummingbirds and the pots needing water and some weeds I notice.  I'm not spending any time pondering the great questions of our time.  I'll never make a good philosopher as I'm too easily distracted for that.

But after taking that little quiz yesterday and beginning to think about my strengths, I understand that even though I admire a certain quality in another, it is not a failure on my part if I am unable to emulate that in my own life.  And the reverse is true as well. 

Today my thoughts have been more about who I am now; what motivates me, what pleases me, and how do I view myself.  And why the hell haven't I figured that all out before now?!

Well, never mind.  Now I know this is a life-long process.  We keep changing and we don't even realize it, and it becomes necessary every now and then to stop and figure whom we have become.

I've come up with a few things.
  • Things make me smile unconsciously all the time - I'm paying more attention to what those things are.
  • I love quiet.
  • I love people - all kinds of people.  I am slow to make friends, but find it easy to be friendly.  It's good for me to be around people.
  • I am a worker.  This has been a revelation to me.  As a child my mother always told me I was lazy, and I guess I have always thought she was right.  But when I look at what I accomplish daily, weekly, yearly, I am even astonished myself. 
  • I love to be creative.
  • Physically I view myself as a younger more slender person and I'm sometimes dismayed to look in the mirror. 
Those are the main ones.  I'm not sure what I will do with this insight, but I will hopefully use my alone time to figure it out.  But you'll have to excuse me now  as I just noticed the hummingbird feeders need filling.


Nicholas V. said...

Hi Becky,
I often find myself reflecting on very similar things that you have, as you indicated in your post. Although I love solitude (in carefully monitored doses), I love being around people also.

Having special people around you with which to share life's moments (both pleasant and unpleasant) gives one a great deal of satisfaction, that no degree of quite introspection in solitude can do.

To have a person beside you that shares all with you and understands you, partners you in all respects completes you. That very special interaction and sharing of lives is what being human and a loving human at that, is all about.

That special one person can be a very close friend, a wife, a husband, a partner, a relative. However, I also realise that many people have to live alone (through no choice of their own in many cases)and this can create within them a need that will be satisfied by alternative 'arrangements'.

These arrangements will vary from person to person and will be satisfying to various degrees. It's a special case of a person who can be content in his or her own solitude and have no special desire to interact closely with others or a special, significant other "one"...

Nicholas V. said...

PS: Sorry for the long comment above - I didn't mean to blog on your blog :-)

Becky Stauffer said...

No apology needed, Nick. Your words reflect exactly what I've been thinking and it's nice to have some validation.

I'm in that "alternative arrangement" stage right now. My life that was once so busy I scarcely had time to sleep, suddenly offers too much free time. I'm now exploring groups I might join, volunteer opportunities, etc., to fill up the time and enjoy some social contacts. I never would have imagined myself in such a place in life.

Bee's Blog said...

This is a very interesting post and I admire that you are willing to admit that you are not a person who is happy to be alone.

I like to be alone at certain times - but that is what I call 'me' time and is temporary and on my own terms.

The thought that I may well one day be 'alone' as in not having my husband around is not something I relish. The reality is that that could happen sooner rather than later as he has kidney disease. We are working on doing everything we can to ensure that further deterioration is slow. But then again I could be hit by a bus tomorrow.

Like you I have children but they have their lives to lead. The youngest is still at home but I don't expect or want her to be here for ever.

There are times when I'm good on my own and there are others when I'm not. I have been thinking over the last few months that friends who I thought were friends are not. The two people who are my true friends and know me best are thousands of miles away and sometimes I just yearn for their company. E mails, letters and telephone calls are not the same.

You haven't figured this out before because you weren't meant to! Or you probably had but the time was right to take stock - which is what you've done - taken stock.

Something happened the other day which made me look at my daughter who was sitting across from me and say: "I wish I was 30 years younger". Never ever in a million Sundays would I have thought that I would ever say that. But I did.

I understand where you're coming from & I too am sorry I wrote a blog on your fascinating blog - but then again you know me!!

Becky Stauffer said...

I love it when people leave long comments. It's equally fascinating to me to hear your view, plus it gives me another point of reference with my own. I'm always concerned I might be getting a little crazy due to all this alone time.