In Praise of Solitude.
Ah, solitude! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I’ve lived on my own in our oh-so-troubled country, feeling — up until now, perhaps — as if I were entirely out of tune with the zeitgeist. I’ve always been enamored of something very old-fashioned which used to be known as peace and quiet.
I’ve had a life-long love affair with freedom — to go and do and eat and spend and create what I want when I want however I want without explaining anything to anybody. I haven’t made a smashing success of it, I haven’t been despair-free, but truth be told, as lives go, it can be a pretty delicious way to live.
Rumor has it that there are more people living alone now than at any time in history. I’d like to testify on our (customarily silent) behalf that most of us are not, in fact, bitter, seething, human-hating hermits. That’s just a bad rep talking. (Thanks so much, Ted Kaczynski, we really appreciate it.) Most of us are living our lives as best and as harmlessly we can.
And we’re bone-weary of being treated as if we are not as psychologically healthy or as marvelous as the marvelously coupled or the perpetually propagating. Ah, that wistful word single! How it signifies someone somehow flawed and (let’s be honest) failed! Bah, humbug! Half of all relationships go down in resentful, toxic flames, and many more trudge on in half-lives of bickering monotony.
I will furthermore cantankerously point out that we solo flyers pay more taxes (which I’ve yet to hear acknowledged even once by even one politician), which mystifies and annoys me, considering there are upwards of 110 million of us.
Now, don’t get me wrong: profoundly loving, respectful, harmonious, devoted domestic partnerships — well, sure, that’s everybody’s holy grail, mine included. However, it’s pretty apparent (and yes, often depressing) that not everybody wins that prize. But I have learned, by hard adventure, that anything that doesn’t fuel me just drains and distracts me and does me in.
So, do I dance with the demons of loneliness? Absolutely! I just happen to find it far more excruciating to ache with loneliness from inside an ill-fitting twosome. I’ll take my lonesome straight up, thanks.
And there are my Friends, you see — capital F, you bet. Beloved, trustworthy soul siblings. Magnanimous, affectionate, supportive bestowers of deep understanding, high quality wisdom and big laughs. Point is, love comes in infinite varieties and is a many-splendored thing indeed.
As Rebecca West once wrote about solitude, “For those who relish it, a word sweeter than muscatel to a wino.”
That’s the secret of those of us who live alone: what we lust for, at the hearth of our homes, is peace. (Shh, tell no one. We don’t want anybody coming over.)
Suzie Plakson is a multi-media artist who’s made the lion’s share of her living as an actress in things like Mad About You, Wag the Dog, Everybody Loves Raymond, How I Met Your Mother and Star Trek. She’s done voiceovers, been a creativity coach, written short stories and poetry, written and recorded an alternative country album called DidnWannaDoit!, created a solo show in which she played Eve and other goddess gals, and produced sculptures large and small in her otherwise unused oven. She’s most recently written and narrated a new hero’s journey called The Return of King Lillian. She can be reached via her website, and her general point of view is easily discernible at her official Facebook page.