For the second time in three weeks, I found myself with lots of ‘alone’ time on my hands. First, Sean went to Arkansas. Last weekend he took some boys camping. Whenever I know he’s going to be away from home, I feel the need to cram my time full. Even if he’s just working late, I think Okay, well I should go to the grocery store while he’s gone, so when he’s home we can do something. Or I’ll wash all the dishes, finish sewing that dress, and get tortillas made. So when he comes home. . . It’s never-ending. I do this a lot. I’ve deemed it the “efficiency sickness.” I have a sickness about being efficient – I always think in doses of What Saves Time.
Therefore, when I find myself alone at home, I tend to cram my schedule full. Yoga class. Day trip with an old student. Dinner with friend. Breakfast with different friend. Plan my next yoga class. Pack my whole house. Clean the whole house. Weed the garden. Go on a bike ride. . . .AH! It’s endless. Though on these particular weekends-without-my-man, I found myself a bit lonely.
Plans got cancelled. Classes got cancelled. It rained. No one answered her phone. With each successive minute of someone NOT calling or NOT responding, I got panicky. Oh gosh! What am I going to do? Ah! I have all this time. I need to hang out. Does no one WANT to hang out with me?! I feel . . . I feel lonely!
Of course I started crying. Gentle tears that really gave me a patient, kind glance at my heart. Somehow I found myself in the Newark Public Library, combing Book Stack 1 for some inspiration. I piled Henri Nouwen, Desmond Tutu, Mother Theresa, and a Buddhist Monk into my arms. I paid my $11.60 fine at the front desk, clearing up THAT bit of karma and marched back to the 4-runner.
With nothing but time and a tomorrow lunch date, I was stuck – with myself. So I wiped my tears, made some tea, grabbed my journal, and sprawled on the couch. Time to get real with myself. Am I really lonely? Why am I sad? Why do I feel lonely?
As I snuggled into the couch, books, and my heart, it became ever clearer (don’t really ask me how) that this lonely time was good. I needed it. I needed to get real with myself. About who I am. Who I’m not. And I desperately needed to shut up and listen.
Charles R. Ringma says, “We are vulnerable and needy people.” – uh huh “It is important to realize that our needs are never one-dimensional. . . They are also spiritual. . .” Oh junk! I know where this is going. . . “Sometimes we need to turn inward.”
In my ‘inward’ searching, I began to realize that all my ‘plans’ for hanging out with people were really my attempts at intimacy. We, humans, all crave to be intimate with people. We want to share secrets, laughter, hugs, tears, meals, desserts :), and daily life with other people. I am no different. But when I run to other people to fill my days with laughter, entertainment, joy, and companionship, I often miss something. – ME. Friends are NOT a problem. Love ’em. Need ’em. End of story. However, looking to friends, or people e for a ‘filling’ or completion IS a problem.
I found myself afraid of all that free time. After some pretty intense ‘inward’ time, I realized, the fear is more about myself. And the quiet. Funny. That’s all I really needed after all. A bit of quiet with myself. Some inward listening. A bit of outward reading. Coupled with more inward listening.
The summation of this equation? Well, I’m not sure yet. Hopefully, it’s one of those things that’ll never be done. I did notice a full smile when I walked past the mirror this morning though. Does that count?