I started reading a new book about a week ago called A Party of One by Anneli Rufus; I got it from my newly discovered bookstore, Paperbacks Unlimited. The title of the book is what caught my eye and after a few minutes of scanning I determined that it would make for a great read. Thus far it has . . . and it hasn't.
It's not that I don't enjoy the book, because I do, but I'm learning that I'm not the lone-wolf I thought I was. Actually, what I've discovered is that I'm not so much a lone wolf as I am someone lacking in a few social skills. **too funny** And I find that I'm not so anxious to join the "lone wolf" club.
There have been times, when I have waved my banner of solitude and "alone-ness" high and quite often in the collective faces of family and friends. I have pushed aside requests or invitations to join in or celebrate with them under the guise of that aforementioned banner. I emphatically believed that my "personal space" could not be sacrificed and I would not abide any attempts to disturb or interfere with my "alone-ness."
I'm on page 79 and I have 194 pages left. What I have learned thus far about being a loner is that -- I am no true loner. I do not have the caliber of alone-ness that is characteristic of Emily Dickinson, "who stayed home for sixteen years and wrote two thousand poems of startling passion." Or the quantitative loner genius of Albert Einstein, who wrote "although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice keeps me from feeling isolated." Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes are but a handful "for whom two was a crowd." They produced astounding works of art, brilliant mathematical calculations and literary greatness in their alone-ness.
I surmise that the author, Anneli Rufus, writes in regards for those whom would retreat from the world at large if they could, but who do not, because they cannot all become absolute hermits and recluses. Even a true loner must, out of sheer survival, interact with the world at large at some point. To be a true loner is to have the consciousness of wanting to escape merely because others are present. So, where does that put me? Am I chomping at the bit just waiting to get away from everyone?
Alas, I must reconcile myself to the fact that I am not the loner I thought myself to be. I do not (often) desire to remove myself from those that inhabit the world around me. I do not (often) walk among my fellow beings all the while searching for a means of escape. I do not (always) stand alone because I cannot bear to be in the midst of a crowd. Therefore, I am not a true loner.
Rufus writes of one John Fairfax, who set off alone to row across the Atlantic in 1969. Fairfax had lived an extravagant life, but felt his "struggle against humanity" was all too much to bear. While he did at times need to interact with others, he felt that "loneliness" was "not a specter to be feared, but more a cherished companion."
While I may certainly prefer the solitude of my own walls, and acknowledge that I can carry interesting and lively conversations with myself; I equally acknowledge that sometimes I find my own company boring and relish the need for human companionship. And as such, I am grateful for my family and friends . . . for they accept me with all my crazy quirks and eccentricities.
**originally posted on 2/20/09