I am in a beautiful guesthouse next to a mansion with a beach-style pool, goats, cows, chickens. It’s quiet and jungle-like. I’m here because I taught a workshop this morning and have another tomorrow. And I’m alone. I’m pretty sure for the first time in 34 years, I’m alone.
I’ve done a lot of firsts this year: first time flying alone; first time to Europe; first time flying with four little children alone; first time taking a lead on a project; first time leaving my children for more than a few days; first time designing; leading a workshop…you get the idea. My life is expanding in beautiful ways. But I’ve never been sitting in a space all by myself.
How can this be?
I started this life with another person – my twin sister. And, well, I wasn’t alone in the womb; I had someone to always play with; go through all those awkward firsts with (going to kindergarten; learning to drive; graduating). We even attended the same college. Then I married and surrounded myself with beautiful, yet noisy and needy children. I’m NEVER alone. Not even in the shower (2-year-olds DO NOT believe in privacy).
Then one day I realized, I wanted to be alone; to sit in a room without any demands. Because if no one demanded my attention, my service, my time then maybe I had a say in my needs.
How do I feel right now?
It’s quiet. Like after 10 minutes I craved the pounding of lyrics in my ears. Yet, I didn’t turn on the radio. Thankfully, there is no t.v. here. I held my phone and texted my best friend, but then I also put that down. I checked my email then closed my computer.
And that’s when I had my ‘Mindy Lahiri moment.’
Note: Mindy Lahiri is a fictional character on the t.v. series The Mindy Project. She’s a doctor experiencing life and relationships in NYC. Her views on life are comedic and with definitely make you laugh.
I laid on the floor and stared at the ceiling. For a long time. Perhaps I thought there was some kind of answer there. Maybe I thought God was going to whisper some guidance in my ear, and I’d actually hear it because it was painfully silent in that room. Nothing extraordinary happened. I just thought, “Why is this moment so hard?”
Why can’t I just be alone?
Answer: I’m scared. I’m not sure I know how to be alone.
Well, I can do the whole “You’re not really alone,” speech. But that doesn’t seem right in this moment. I feel alone. No one else is here. That doesn’t make me lonely. I’m not sad. I’m not worried. I just feel…you guessed it…uncomfortable. And I’m aware of it.
If I have learned anything in the last year, it’s that feeling uncomfortable usually follows a great space for growth.
Geneen Roth said it well: “…learning to keep yourself company. And then learn to be more compassionate company, as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage.”
So that is my next move; my next lesson. I’m going to be compassionate with myself in the silence. I love this step forward because it’s an extension to the self-love I talked about a few weeks ago. I’m going to spend more time alone. It may be only a few times here and there, but in this space I will no doubt discover depth about myself that are not available in the chaos of noise.
And what is there to be afraid of? It’s just me.
I challenge you to be alone. Really alone and see what happens. Is it easy for you? How do you feel? What do you observe about yourself?