I’ve been hanging out here by myself for the past three days and it’s been interesting to watch how I live when no one else is watching.
I go to bed at strange hours; I eat at unusual times; and I work in longer stretches than normal. I let my room get messy; I leave projects out overnight and they are there in the morning littering the breakfast table.
I once read this account of people who were deprived of light for long periods of time and had no concept of what time it was. These people fell into natural rhythms of waking and sleeping that didn’t even come remotely close to what they did when there was night and day. They would sleep for 14 hours at a stretch then stay up for 24 to 36 hours straight. That’s kind of what I do.
When I don’t have to consider any one else’s patterns, and can live more or less organically, doing what the spirit moves me to do, and when, I will steam up a big plate of kale for lunch and down it with a tumbler of San Pelligrino, and there is nobody to say: “Ew.” And I can eat this meal at noon or at 2, depending on how I’m feeling and how the writing is going.
Because I have pets though, I can’t really live totally by my internal clock. Animals need predictability in their lives or else they’ll crap all over the floor, and I’d just as soon not deal with that, so I’m keeping them fed and walked at regular times.
Yesterday I put a second coat of paint on the new shed, and got into the Zen of painting. Easy, mindless, tasks give me an opportunity to watch my thoughts, or the lack thereof. There was just enough to focus on to keep it interesting, but not so much that it became mentally taxing. The surface I was painting was T-111 siding, and painting that kind of crappy wood was like painting the inside of an English muffin: so many nooks and crannies! I had to brush up and down, side to side, and then poke the bristles in to get at the deep recesses.
(I really got into it, actually, and was sad when the job was done.)
I think if I lived alone like this for an extended period of time I would have to paint a lot things.
There’s a great book called Drinking The Rain, where the main character goes and lives in a little cabin on the coast of Maine for a year. She goes into town once a week for groceries, but after a while even the grocery store trip becomes too socially alien that she starts fishing in order to eat, and drinks the rainwater she collects from her roof, just so she doesn’t have to deal with people.
Me? I just avoid Walmart.
I think it’s therapeutic to be alone for extended periods of time on occasion. It gives you a little look at who you are when you are not in “relationship.” Relationships skew us, in a way (often in a good way). It’s like if you never tasted bread without butter and one day you try it plain: Oh, so this is what bread tastes like. Good to know. Pass me the butter, please.
But after a too many days of bread without butter, and water and kale for lunch, my “Fun Meter” starts to tend dangerously toward “Empty” and I need someone to embellish my plain bread life, and echo my laughter. Know what I mean?