Sunday, June 21, 2009

Alone Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be (edited and reposted)

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


Ipo said...

Birds of a feather. This is quite the interesting topic. As I read this post, I realize that I am part "loner" as well. I am embarrassed to admit that I need to be alone sometimes, even from my own children.I long for these alone times. I withdraw, alot, from social events....even family events. I love people, I love my family, so I don't know what it is. This post kind of gives me a little more insight to myself. Am I claiming to be a great mind? By all means, NO. But sometimes the noises of humanity can be too much for me...what does that say about me anyway? Who knows?

Brenda said...

I always wish I was more social. But alas, people tend to get on my nerves. What to do?

twelvekindsofcrazy said...

Excellent post. It's something to think about. I'm not sure of my loner status. Your post left me more confused. But that's not your fault, I confuse easily. Because I'm a dumbie.

Siana Burgess said...

AhhhhOooooooo! (Lone wolf my eye! LOLOL) I would say occasionally a "lone wolf," cause you and I are a part of a pack. Yes... the "we think we are lone wolves" Pack LOLOL Nah, I know I am not a lone wolf and I am glad you aren't either. I know you are strong in that way where you can be alone and enjoy it but I am glad you enjoy the company of others as well cause I know I enjoy yours. Even though we only share it online now LOLOL and not in person I truly love you my sister and appreciate the times we have shared talking and pondering our thoughts out loud together. There is comfort in that sharing. I really think you would enjoy reading Robin Hobb. Start with the Farseer trilogy. It actually involves a "lone wolf" who finds a mixed "pack" of people to call family. Reading what you have written here I think you will enjoy it, but then I always thought you might enjoy it and thats why I mentioned it to you eons ago! LOLOL By the way, what ever happened to John Fairfax? Did he make it across the Atlantic in a row boat? I love you sis, you take care, Siana

IWA (e - va) said...

I love this post... Thanks for posting it again or I may have never seen it!

Growing up i had abandonment issues ( no idea how it happened because i have so many siblings) but yeah.. always afraid to be called the loner... now there are times when i beg for the title.