Musings of the Day
On Being Alone
Hear this read aloud
“Alone” is a state I both crave and run from, a way of being with myself that I am keenly aware is the key to what I seek. Just when I think I am good with it, I find that I have once again distracted myself from the truth of what it means to face myself in the mirror. This just might be the heart of and the biggest challenge of my life.
I sit here in the middle of the night, alone, because I long for the stillness that comes with it, the quiet and solitude only found when the rest of my household is asleep. Every night I find myself waking and, as if pulled by an unseen force, climbing out of my warm bed to be alone with myself. Even then, I find ways to distract myself from this aloneness. I find things to do, to check off my never-ending list. But then there are the times like this when I am brought back to myself again, to the longing I feel for being at peace with my own reflection.
Each year looking in the mirror becomes more challenging. Aging strikes fear and regret deep in my belly. It gets harder to look and not see my life passing by, unlived by the standards I have set for myself. As I typed those words my computer automatically corrected my spelling to “unloved” and truly that is the key, isn’t it? It really is a life unloved. I remember a few times in my life when I was able to look at my reflection and love what I saw, but they were few and fleeting. They were times when what I saw told me that I fit certain criteria for beauty or strength or achievement. But there have been a few in which I was able to gaze into my own eyes and see my true reflection, the image of who I am beyond the form I inhabit. I know that feeling, the recognition of self and that is where I am focused now.
Now, at the beginning of my 70’s when it is imperative for me to look beyond the physical, I find myself seeking “me” in a whole new way. My longing is for myself as lover, friend, and trusted companion on my life’s journey. Until now I have focused on uncovering my truth, knowing who I am and what I am here for. I wanted to know myself as I was meant to be. What was not apparent to me in this quest for self-knowledge, was that once I found that truth I would have to live inside it, with myself. I would have to embody it alone. The next steps for me are those that lead me to embodiment of my truth, which is a solitary path within. It sounds like it has to do with externals, the body, but I am realizing that it begins with being me, inside my body. And no one can be me, except me. No one can inhabit my body with me. This is a journey I must take alone.
So I am back to what alone means. The running to and from it is exhausting and a waste of the precious energy I have. This is the time to stop and look in the mirror again, not to assess myself in any terms other than whether I am actually present or not. When I gaze into my eyes am I judging the creases that have formed around them or am I seeing the years of experience they have known? When I look at the scars my body carries, do I turn away or honor the resilience I have to continue coming back after each hit? And when I notice the softening of my flesh where there was once firm muscle, do I get caught up in loss or do I recognize the wisdom of my body to let go of the armor it no longer needs, to melt into receptivity?
At 70 I face less years ahead of me than behind. My mortality is now more real than ever. It seems foolhardy to waste the years I have left on things that I cannot change and really don’t care to. What matters now is that “alone” is a state I welcome, because it means that all of the work I’ve done to this point, truly has brought me back to myself. Now that I know who I am, embodying that truth is all that matters. Loving who I am is all that matters. I didn’t come home to an empty house. I came home to one filled with a self that has lifetimes of wisdom and magic to share. Once I recognize the self I have come home to, I will never be alone again, because I will have me.
After some passing time and re-reading these words, I realize how far I've come in this process. I write what is present for me in the moment, but the moments each bring new awareness and the hours and days that follow, transformation. Let me simply say how grateful I am to be able to look back to weeks ago and see the shifts that have altered my perception already. My path has been one of continual awakening, but of late the process has accelerated to a lighting speed. What I write or paint in one middle of the night session with myself, seems to magically transform my life as I awake to a new day. Life continues to throw me into a tailspin and I am laughing and crying all the way!