Lately, I have been exploring different ways to be present to my feelings of what I call my uncomfortable aloneness, as well to stay with my more difficult feelings of deep loneliness. There is a great difference between the two, but for me, they both often contain a feeling that I can only describe as being quite close to nostalgia, bittersweetness, or what I have learned to think of as groundlessness (which is the truth of life, really). We cannot help but feel groundless the more we understand how life is continually changing, continually transforming.
Both of these concepts, however, are different than the joyful feeling of being alone I feel when I have the opportunity to bask in a quiet house, to take a well-earned nap, to read an exciting novel, to grab my backpack and go for a long walk, or just to have precious ‘time alone’ to live my own life and think my own thoughts. This is what the title of this blog refers to…sometimes alone is best.
This is the kind of aloneness I have always treasured, often longed for, and frequently seek out. I truly am an extroverted introvert who loves her space and needs copious amounts of time alone to explore my books, my writing, and my world.
This is the experience of ‘aloneness’ that is really an absence of any feeling. It is simply being…being at one with nature, being at one with the world around us…with the present moment.
And yet…call it co-dependence, or insecurity, or past-life issues, or neurological pathways gone wrong…for whatever the reason, sometimes the joy of aloneness slides down the slippery slope to become uncomfortable aloneness, and before I know it, I find myself scrambling to avoid feeling lonely. It’s one of those complex, twisted bundle of fibers that act in our brains like a shoelace with dozens of horrible knots. The threads must be separated one strand at a time, so that we can see each one for what it is. Only then, can they one by one disappear.
It’s like the story of the child who is petrified when he sees a snake in the corner of his room at night. But when his mother turns the light on, they both see that it is just a rope, and immediately the child’s fear is gone.
I’ve discovered that writing tanka (a 1300 year old Japanese poetic form of five phrases of 31 Japanese ‘syllables,’ …in English five lines or about 20 syllables) is a fantastic tool or ‘light’ for me to use in my attempts to separate the strands that unconsciously lead me from joy to sorrow when it comes to finding myself unexpectedly alone (and, oddly, this can even occur when I find myself alone for an hour or two…something I usually find delightful). The writing of these little poems, whose lines usually follow a pattern of short-long-short-long-long, helps me capture in an instant the transformation of feeling-states. It gives me a small, and somewhat more accurate, window into my brain and the thoughts it incessently churns out.
(Plus, tanka are just wonderfully fun to write, and many tanka writers even keep tanka journals. I’ve tried this occassionally and, hopefully, will attempt it again soon…maybe even on this blog. )
So, here then, are just a few of the tankas I have written lately to explore the difference between my mind’s interpretations of the state we call “alone.” Tankas allow me to come at my thinking from all different directions without getting lost in analyzing or self-criticism
Today, I choose
the quiet aloneness
of a cold morning
delicious anticipation laced
with thin whisps of longing.
reflecting the lavendar of
ocean and snow—
I am lost in the grace
of this vast aloneness
to be here wrapped
Did the phone ring before
or after the storm began?