The Luxury of SolitudePosted: January 2, 2012
Maintaining a firm sense of self is an integral part of a well-rounded life. Spending time alone is one of the best opportunities I have to re-evaluate why I am acting in the way that I am, rather than going through the motions mindlessly. It is a wholly self-centered pursuit, devoid of any ulterior motive other than making oneself feel more complete. Being alone provides a chance to do things that you truly enjoy without worrying if anyone else is having a good time.
As any economist will tell you, luxury is a function of scarcity. So, your alone time becomes more valuable when there is less of it available. Conversely, if all of your time is spent alone then it becomes somewhat meaningless, devoid of value… life is all about moderation, and time in solitude is no exception. Especially after starting working full-time, I cherish my moments alone, where I am able to engage in activities that I perform for the sake of themselves rather than activities performed for an ultimately functional purpose.
Below is an excerpt from Margarita Karapanou’s novel Rien Ne Va Plus, translated from the original Greek version by Karen Emmerich.
For me freedom means solitude, a solitude full of walks in the country, solitary strolls through unfamiliar cities, books scattered around my bed at night, lying open at random pages… When I’m sitting at a cafe, I look at my hand resting on the table, my pale hand with its long red nails, maybe I’m wearing a ring, and it fills me with an indescribable pleasure, because that hand is my hand, and I’ve made it beautiful for myself, and when I leave this cafe in this unfamiliar city, I’ll return to the hotel, take a hot fragrant bath, and then fall asleep. I want to be alone, to sail like a ship and stop and whatever harbor I choose, and leave again when I want. My solitude is sacred.
Spending time alone helps you to develop a strong sense of self in future challenges; pardon the cliché, but a sense of calm amidst the storm. Being good to yourself helps you to bring something to the table in terms of your fundamental beliefs, passions, and understanding of truths. Once you embrace your unique-ness and comfortability as an individual, it makes life a hell of a lot easier, more carefree, and fun.
One of my favorite solo indulgences is going to see films. Now, I’ve gotten plenty of bewildered glances from ticket-sellers when I ask for one ticket, even had an usher ask me, “Don’t you have any friends?” Yes, usher dude, I do indeed have friends, but movies are possibly the least sociable activity to partake in. You sit parallel to another person in the dark for a few hours, with minimal eye contact and conversation forbidden. It is lovely to see flicks with fellow film-nerds and analyze it over drinks afterwards, but having company is by no means a necessary component to enjoying a film.
My film tastes run towards the snobbish, obnoxiously esoteric side of things, not exactly everyone’s cup of tea. Why drag a friend to sit morosely through a movie they don’t want to see when it is is perfectly acceptable to go solo? On a quiet Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, I saw Lars Von Trier’s visually stunning Melancholia, a cosmically epic film that lives up to its tragic name. The film garnered rave reviews for its dual depiction of clinical depression and an impending apocalypse, with some good ol’ criticism of capitalism thrown in. Oh, and gratuitous usage of Wagner’s Prelude from Tristan Und Isolde.
As a bit of a nostalgia fiend, I adored seeing the film at the legendary Bridge Theater, a throwback single-screen movie house that has been operating nonstop since 1939. It’s the kind of place where the projectionist is the same guy who sells you your ticket, shills popcorn, and does a charmingly awkward introduction of the film to the audience (referring to Melancholia as a “downer”). After the film, I walked down the street to my favorite cafe, sipped an Americano, people-watched, and thought about the purpose of it all.
So, that’s the kind of thing I like to do alone. Now, I’m not advocating that you spend your alone time seeing semi-depressing movies, you do YOUR thing! Appreciate your individual quirks, unapologetically foster your interests, get down with your bad self.