www.whyville.net Aug 12, 2012 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

The Art of Being Alone

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Searching for a significant other should be a fun pastime and not an unhealthy obsession. In my case at least, behind this unrepentant exercise of mundane exploration and natural selection (which has been going on for about four and a half months), there is not one gram of restlessness, desperation, anguish or spite.

If I tell you that "I'm looking for a partner", it is because I often wish to find a person who could perfectly fit the pending space on my personal puzzle. I'm not delusional or overly optimistic either. If such person comes into my life, great. But if not, I can still sleep at night.

Loneliness, far from intimidating me, is comforting. Too comforting, I could say. Even if I miss certain people, there are things I would rather do alone: like going to the movies, grocery shopping, visiting a book shop, buying clothes, traveling . . . There are some days at work that I even eat by myself, rejecting multiple lunch invitations, and being accompanied only by the latest book I've immersed myself in. Sometimes I enjoy sitting at a little cafe, knowing I can observe anyone from the safety of my booth and the delicious and melancholic horizon of my coffee cup. Maybe that's why I enjoy driving around so much. Being at the wheel, stepping on the gas, deciding what speed I want my Ford Falcon to go . . . it is all an epiphany of independence.

Someone could easily pull me by the ear and ask me: "If you like being alone so much, what are you doing looking for a partner?" And I could defend myself saying that one thing leads to another, and I believe that only people that know how to be alone can truly value the dimension of good company.

Sometimes I think that this retracted attitude, which could easily seem a grave propensity towards social isolation, is related to my favorite hobbies (reading and writing are solitary acts, by definition). However, I have a reasonable anthropological justification that reduces itself to a fact: we come to this Earth alone and we will leave this Earth alone. The birth of twins, triplets, quadruplets are always a novelty, a rarity worthy of the front page of newspapers. The normal, the expected, the typical, is for a human to be born alone. Same goes with death. We part on our own.

That's why I get a little irritated with people who don't know how to be alone. Those men and women who believe solitude is parallel to abandonment, defeat or exclusion. People who look everywhere and do anything for a couple, and end up getting with someone who they don't love, but that represents what they have searched for so desperately. Without knowing, they end up falling for an idea, for a mirage: not with the person, but with what that person temporarily represents and embodies.

I feel sorry for those people who can't stand themselves, for those people who suffocate in the silence of their rooms and who can't even look in a mirror because they're afraid of discovering God knows what uncomfortable truths. These people are capable of being with who they can be with and not who they want to be with just to hide the paranoia of being alone, ignoring the fact that by doing this, they are only extending their misery.

This attitude responds to a typical mentality, papered in phrases like "I'm going to give myself a chance with him", "I don't love her, but I need her", or 'I know that with time I can fall for you". Do not trust when you hear these gentle claims, because behind them there is usually a coward, hiding fearful and timid, mortgaging his freedom and clinging to a relationship in which he doesn't believe.

I have a friend who claims that we couple up because, subconsciously, we want a witness, someone who can give credit to your experiences and be that person who corroborates them to others. A kind of sentimental fact checker. It makes sense. Nonetheless, I believe that we all deserve to live a long term without a partner. We need to learn how to be alone and how to love ourselves and be comfortable around ourselves when there is nobody else around. Because only then can we really appreciate what it means to have someone.

So this is why I don't look for a partner so he can "rescue me from my solitude". I look for someone who can share it with me.


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