I went to a local deli and cafe today for lunch. Alone. I like to do that. I enjoying eating meals out alone and going to the movies alone, though I also like to do those things with other people. If I’m shopping for clothes, plants, books, gifts, or almost anything where I need or want to browse and make many choices, I really prefer to be alone. Same with taking train trips.
I know that some people, perhaps especially women, don’t like to eat alone in public, and prefer to have friends with them when shopping. But being alone in public spaces gives me the opportunity to eavesdrop, to observe, to meditate, to absorb my environment with my senses, to reflect. If I’m with someone, I will be listening to or talking with that person, or interacting in some way with that person, which is also good (usually), but it’s different than absorbing, integrating and wondering about what comes my way, as I can do when I’m alone. I like to have friends to do things with, and I also like to do things by myself.
In both situations, I can be in the moment. With another person, I am going with the flow of that person’s mood and conversation. I am attending and abiding. And I’m also aware of my role, of our relationship to this point, of our shared history (or not), of my need to find and choose words and gestures, and of the appropriateness, helpfulness, and friendliness of my reactions and responses.
Alone, I am open to what comes. I feel like part of a continually cycling loop, as I take in stimuli, feel it, synthesise it (or maybe not – maybe feel confused by it, or feel numbed by it), reflecting it, perhaps responding in some way.
Usually, being alone is more relaxing for me. I can move at my own tempo, whatever feels right to me that day, that place, that moment. I can take a long pause without being questioned about it and perhaps losing the connection I was making or feeling. If I feel sad, I can look sad or even shed some tears without having to explain something that I may not understand myself. Same thing if something incongruous in the environment or in my head amuses me.
I’m also lucky to have a few friends to hang out with, have lunch with, spend time with, who leave space for my spaciness, who maybe also enjoy time to observe and pause and wonder.
But today, it was just me, and it was good.