Thursday, April 21, 2011

on solitude

It turns out, I suppose, that I have been worried about the wrong things.  Before I quit my job, I spent long hours talking to Kathy, to my therapist, to anyone who would listen, about how, even when I quit, I would still have a schedule, I would still have things to do, don't worry, I won't come unmoored.

As it turns out, having this schedule, all these things to do, was the problem all along.  I've cleaned my closet, I've cleared out and bleached the fridge.  I've spread mulch and watched tulips push their way out of the soil in the garden.  I've kept my appointments and made lunch plans.  I've stepped up when the nanny was ill and attended school events (including one for a neighbor kid when both his parents were working).  I've called my parents, I've spent the day in Brooklyn with long-neglected friends.  I've kept busy.

And I feel a panic similar to the panic I felt while working, that there aren't enough hours in the day for all of these obligations.  That if I don't get up now, I will waste the best part of the day, where there is a moment of silence, and the obligations will come crashing in.  In my obsession with keeping myself busy to fend off the depression everyone promised (myself included!) would follow quitting a job which consumed the vast majority of my life energy for the three years I worked at it -- as well as the three years I trained for it -- I neglected what my soul was telling me as it ached to just quit in the first place. 

I want to be in charge of my own life.  I want solitude and quiet.  I want to drop out, and indulge my hermitous nature, even just a little bit.  I like time alone.  Not this kind of alone I've had since quitting, where I sit in a coffee shop in Chelsea, surrounded by people, noise, and perpetual motion.  But the alone of stillness, and silence. 

That is the kind of alone that brought me to yoga ten years ago.  (And which, unsurprisingly, now that I think of it, I have not found in one single yoga class in Manhattan or Brooklyn, or suburban New York City.  I went to yoga to change the shape of my life, not the shape of my butt, so how could a class aimed at the latter accomplish the former?  Thank you, Julia Roberts, for that little insight.)

Maybe it is true that opposites attract after all, for I find myself surrounded by people who grow concerned when I go entire days without speaking to another human in person (which has not actually happened since this day, and before that, who even knows when -- maybe sometime during law school?).  No one believes me when I say I love those kind of days.  Or, even if they believe me, it still concerns them.  Not normal, I suppose.  Am I really so alone in my desire to be alone?


  1. I think the first few days and weeks are easy when you make (or one is made for you) a major change in your life. It's like the beginning of a diet: the first 5-10lbs are easy and fast. But the rest of the weight comes off slowly and so people get frustrated and give up. Your life is not going to revolve 180 degrees in one week, you know? How long did it take you to get used to biglaw life? How long does it usually take you to settle into something?

  2. Too much of a good thing is still too much of a good thing. When I have too much activity and engagement I become anxious and overwhelmed. When I spend too much time alone I become isolated and depressed. The challenge for me is to strive to find the balance.