I came across this video of Tanya Davis’s performance of her poem “How to be alone”, and found some of its combinations of turns of phrase wonderfully lyrical, and I just had to listen to it and transcribe it here [with the very occasional comment in square brackets].
If you are at first lonely, be patient. If you haven’t been alone much, or if when you were, you weren’t okay with it, then just wait. You’ll find it’s fine to be alone once you’re embracing it.
We could start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library. Where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books. You’re not supposed to talk much anyway so it’s safe there
There’s also the gym. If you’re shy you can hang out with yourself and mirrors, you can put headphones in.
And there’s probably transportation, because we all got to go places.
And there’s prayer and meditation, no one will think less if you’re hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation.
Start simple. Things you may have previously avoided based on your “avoid being alone principles”.
The lunch counter, where you’ll be surrounded by chow-downers, employees that only have an hour and their spouses work across town and so they, like you, will be alone.
Resist the urge to hang out with your cell-phone.
When you’re comfortable with “eat lunch and run”, take yourself to dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You’re no less intriguing a person when you are eating solo dessert and cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.
Go to the movies, where it’s dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst the fleeting community.
And then, take yourself out dancing, to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside on the floor until the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one’s watching because they’re probably not. And, if they are, assume it’s with the best human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting.
Dance until you’re sweating and beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things. Down your back like a brook of blessings. [Goodness what a turn of phrase :)]
Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you.
Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, there are always statues to talk to, and benches made for sitting give strangers a shared existence, if only for a minute. These moments can be so uplifting and the conversations you get in sitting alone on benches might have never happened had you not been there by yourself.
Society is afraid of alone though. Like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements. Like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them.
Well lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless. And lonely is healing if you make it. You could stand, swathed, by groups and mobs, or hold hands with your partner, look both further and farther in the endless quest for company. But no one’s in your head, and by the time you translate your thoughts some essence may be lost, or perhaps it is just kept.
Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from preschool over to high-school’s groaning were tokens for holding the lonely at bay.
‘Cause if you are happy in your head, then solitude is blessed, and alone is okay.
It’s okay if no one believes like you. All experience is unique, no one has the same synapses, can’t think like you. For this, be relieved, keeps things interesting, life’s magic things in reach.
And it doesn’t mean you are not connected, that community’s not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it.
Take silence and respect it. If you have an art that needs practice stop neglecting it. If your family doesn’t get you or if a religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it.
You could be, in an instant, surrounded if you need it.
If your heart is bleeding, make the best of it.
There’s heat in freezing, be a testament. [Interesting ending. A tad rushed and disjointed, I thought.]