I’m here on the Jersey Shore with my brother and his wife and kids (and our mom) for a week of sand dunes, smashing waves, sun lotion and iced coffee.
At night when the small people have been tucked into bed, the card games start. My brother won’t play because he’s too busy with his own kind of cards — index-cum-flash cards; he’s got an exam next week that’ll test over 623 pieces of small trivia. In addition to a stolen hour or two at night, he might also grab a half hour of sneaky study in the morning as our entourage hits the dunes.
Watching my brother steal time to study reminds me that the most significant upside to my single lifestyle is the amount of solitude I get to enjoy.
I’ve often wondered what’s going to happen to me when I meet the right person and settle down — I fear I might malfunction without all that time to myself. I’d rather not be single, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I do worry about this.
Solitude has been frowned upon throughout history. According to the National Geographic, solitary confinement as a form of punishment dates back to the 1700’s (and was introduced by the Quakers of all people.) Not-so-nice experiments have shown that monkeys are prone to psychosis if they end up with too much alone time. And because of what’s known as social desirability bias, if you score high on introversion on a personality test you’ll collect bonus points that bump that score higher. Because introversion is considered far less socially desirable than extraversion, the test designers assume you are inadvertently downplaying your little flaw.
The opening line on Wiki states: “Solitude … may stem from bad relationships, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, neurological disorders or circumstances of employment or situation (see castaway).”
I spend most of time writing, researching and reading. And I love that. It’s my choice. My work matches my personality. But equally I need a daily dose of time with friends and family. About 24 hrs of no company is the most I can genuinely enjoy. But I could never be a teacher — extraverting all day long, and I’d suffer if I had to spend my day in meetings or working as a team.
But my most ideal state is being alone together.
I love blogging from the beach chair right now with my 20-month nephew quietly burying my feet in sand. I love reading my book surrounded by the diffuse sounds of other people’s chit chat. And in terms of being single, one of the things I miss most is reading the Sunday papers with someone special. Separately but together.
Recently I downloaded OmmWriter. Omm is like Microsoft Word except that it’s Zen. The screen is pure uncluttered blank – no toolbars around the edges. Omm let’s you select the sound of your typing (my favourite: the old fashioned typewriter option), the background theme and colour (my favourite: a vista of barren trees covered with snow) and the backing soundtrack which includes options like nighttime crickets or chimes in the wind (my favourite: random household noises.)
With Omm, I create my own writing environment where I type on my trusty old typewriter looking out at the snow all the while surrounded by the comforting sounds of someone busy in the next room sorting through some papers or shuffling down the hall to make coffee.
I guess the makers of Omm must have known — plenty of us want to be alone. Surrounded by the comfort of company.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device