The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: solitude (page 1 of 3)

I Taught People to Breathe

I taught people to breathe.

Breathe the proper way, that is. Where you draw the breath into your system, long and deep and deliberate, and then you stay put, be still. Then you let it go, slow and long and drawn out, no hurry or hesitation involved. It comes in, a steady inflowing stream, and then you let it flow out, a long and smooth whoosh. It can become a nice, personal dance where you are the dancer and the audience.

I taught little kids to breathe too. Their little breaths would gush out of their sweet bodies, so trusting and surrendering. They would let it all out, give it all away… and I could steal it all if I so wanted. But I’d be a nasty villain if I did that. And I know that nasty villains exist, and they were likely little kids as well, sincere and eager and trusting. Then the world began to let them down, one infraction at a time, then another, and another. Little kids learned not to trust. They started retreating, eyes not making contact, words not giving a response. There is a teenager. And I taught that one also to breathe. Played the monkey and the elephant and the snake and the lion. Breathe in, then out… don’t stop. Don’t be afraid or fearful, I am right here with you. There is love in the world, and there is sex, and there is intimacy. There is parental love, and the romantic kind.

I also taught grownups to meditate. This was my favorite thing of all. It is simple, people… NOT EASY. This is such a lovely, tough thing to grasp. And I’d spent years trying to clutch and grasp at the little meditation dance, so I had ample sympathy, an abundance of metaphors to help guide those interested.

For the first time in your life, there is no performing, not a thing to do.

It is sweet bliss.

And then I let it all go. Or it let go of me. I sank into the silence, no more eye contact, no more voice response. The farther I went, the more alone I got. The deeper I fell, the louder the silences. I whirled around in the wilderness, finally song-less, finally wordless. But the woods and wind saw it all. They silently rejoiced but I was still and unmoving.

My body had become large and swollen. I fit nowhere, I could go no place. I thought it was time to be selfish. I was going to let this fill up my insides and pulse through my veins, making them stand taut and shiny green. My voice began flowing again but the channels were hidden, and only a few could hear it. The song broke free of all chords and scales, it became a major solo orchestra, blinding and deafening.

And it was all only beginning.

Home Alone

I always thought that to be home meant to be alone. For, when you are truly home, you are utterly by yourself. No friend or lover, parent or a child, soulmate, pet, not even God… well, at least how we like to define God. No, S/H/e/It isn’t there either.

To be home means to be entirely and utterly by oneself.

I, for one, never had an issue with that.

Even as a child, I liked spending the long hours by myself. Books were the next best option. My sister and my mother were great companions too. Perhaps because they liked their space and quiet as well. So there we were, left to our individual wiles and devices (not the electronic type), utterly happy (or not), pottering around in our own little worlds.

There have been quiet evenings when I have wondered if company would be the antidote to that dull, brooding feeling. But no, not really, I don’t think so. I am not sure if that gnawing restlessness would have been fixed by people and conversation. Yes, there have been times when I have desired for people and conversation, deep and light. I have wanted for bright, warm lights, good home-cooked food, a warm corner to curl in, a cozy ride home with P.

But most evenings, home is alone and alone is home, and it feels perfect and abundant.

Freedom/Isolation

A balloon flies free, untethered by a strong hand,
It isn’t too different for a mind that likes solitude
The days are long, the moments flow along nicely

It is quiet and spacey

No voice beckons, no company calls.

It feels nice, then quiet, then too silent,

and I often think: when does the notion of freedom bleed into isolation?
When does the feeling of warm comfort become a strain?

The quiet space starts collapsing within,
Then the only sound is the silent one, that feels loud and blaring and deafening.

I wonder: what about the future? Will it be quiet too?

Is this my personality, a bad mood, a time-of-the-month? A hormonal shift, a moon cycle play?

And then it begins again, another day, another evening by the window, wandering in half-thought, half-soliloquy, full-___.

Retreat

Periodically, I get the urge to retreat.

I lose all inclination to talk to people and/or meet with them. Browsing Facebook or Twitter or Instagram has no charm. I feel like I want to stay indoors by myself (or with my husband who enjoys solitude as much as, if not more than, I do) puttering around the house. Or perhaps go out for a walk or hike, maybe a swim.

There is a strong urge to disengage from everything. I don’t want to read about politics or institutional racism or climate change or economic inequality or mistreatment of women or lack of sanitation, or whatever. I also am not interested in reading about Apple’s latest release or the cool styles on High Heel Confidential, or Heidi’s beautiful recipes on 101 Cookbooks.

I simply want to vegetate. Or ruminate. Or hibernate.

Of course, this stream of thought is immediately followed by another, filled with guilt and self-recrimination.

Aren’t you privileged? You can actually afford to disengage. You have nothing at stake. Not your health or employment or marriage or life. You have nothing to lose by detaching yourself from the everyday occurrences and goings-on of others. Aren’t you selfish? Instead of reaching out to people who are in need of help and support, you prefer to hunker down, like you are a self-styled hermit or a recluse.

You are neither.

You are a pampered, self-absorbed woman who has never wanted for a thing all her life. Most things came easy to you. You like to believe that you are a minimalist but that’s a relative perspective. You have everything you want, so you can actually afford to consider yourself a minimalist. You see yourself as a minimalist only because you look around and see how people spend money, acquire things, move into large homes, buy big cars. None of that is related to you, really.

Okay. But none of this, in any way, diminishes my strong desire to retreat inward, literally and metaphorically.

I used to consider myself a regular extrovert but now it seems like that was a thin veneer that shed itself as I ventured into my mid-late thirties.

So, all of this – acknowledging my need for quiet, space, solitude – is new to me.

But I am gulping it down like a much-needed glass of water. So perhaps, all of this is timely and essential.