It might be a cliché, but it’s amazing how everything feels a little bit better when the sun shines. And we have finally had two glorious, warm days after a very long and gloomy winter. Best of all, they came as part of a long weekend. Why isn’t every weekend four days long? It’s so relaxing. Surely the world wouldn’t stop turning, or the economy collapse if we all just worked a little bit less? There would be less unemployment if we shred the workloads a little bit more. I am postponing the thoughts of returning to work tomorrow, safe in the knowledge that it’s only one day then another sunny day off will follow. All working weeks should be three days long.
The good thing about this weekend has been the balance. There have been no serious workouts, but there has been a LOT of walking, including one gorgeous one up a wee hill. There have been fun activities and there has been the pain of doing a massive clear out at home: agony to contemplate, but satisfying once completed. Sometimes getting started is the hardest thing. And I have had great times with loved ones and great times on my own.
Spending time alone is something I am getting more used to. Here’s another cliché – being alone is a double edged sword. Ouch. It’s something we often crave when we don’t have it, and when we do, it can feel lonely rather than enjoyable. How we feel about it is largely dependent on our state of mind and what we do with that time alone. For those of us with busy lives and families, a quiet evening in with the phone off the hook and a box set can be the ultimate in bliss. But doing that night after night after night can be depressing and loneliness sets in.
On the other hand, for those who are single and without many friends or family around, running the gauntlet of a world seemingly filled with happy couples, families and boisterous groups can equally challenging. Sometimes it feels safer to stay indoors and not risk the exposure of being the only one out on their own. There are days when we just don’t feel strong enough for that.
The trouble with hiding away, is that in the long term, it is more likely to lead to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Sure, it can be easier in the winter when the weather is shit and even the most sociable among us want to stay indoors. But when the sun is shining, battening down the hatches is more likely to cause a double whammy of depression. Feeling sorry for ourselves for being on our own, then piling on top the feeling that somehow we’ve wasted some of the precious little, good weather that we do get. If you live in a hot country, this may not make sense, but if you live in a place like Scotland, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
This is one of those situations, much like forcing yourself into your trainers to go for a run, where making yourself go out and do something positive instead of wallowing in it, will almost certainly make you feel better. This weekend, it was ‘my turn’ to go out on Saturday night. Saturday night can be a tricky one for us oldies. People are often at home looking after kids, or doing coupley things. I had tried and failed to find anyone able to come out with me. Instead of giving up and retreating into my cave, I thought what the fuck, and went out to the cinema by myself. You may think, what’s the big deal? Going to the cinema solo is completely acceptable and I agree. But on a Saturday, it’s a bit more risky. Being out on your own on a Saturday night is slightly more suspicious; it has the whiff of sadness about it. Especially as a woman.
I was truly glad I went. I loved the film and even felt bold enough to stop for a glass of wine afterwards, before I caught the bus home. Of course, I picked a place where I felt comfortable, although I had never been there on my own in the evening before. The strange thing was, I didn’t feel weird, or lonely, or sad. I didn’t hide behind a book (although I admit to a fiddle on my phone). I was in a good mood from seeing a good film, and I was perfectly happy. No strange man tried to pick me up. I may have spotted a couple of curious looks cast my way, but otherwise no-one bothered me. Possibly most people were too drunk by that stage in the evening to care. And it gave me the strength of knowing that if I want to go out and do that again then I will. Men go out on their own all the time, so why shouldn’t I?
Today, I had an afternoon alone and it was another beautiful day. There were chores that I could have done, but I didn’t want to be stuck indoors. So I went to one of my favourite parks, knowing that it would be full of families enjoying the Easter holiday, rolling their eggs and wearing stupid bunny ears. It’s a huge park, where you can get away from the sound of traffic and feel like you are far from the city. But to get coffee, you have to go where the people are. The only other people on their own were pensioners, dog walkers and runners. I was none of these today. I sat among the families in the sunshine with my cup of coffee and felt absolutely fine. Then I wandered into the quieter bit of the park, and sat on a log to just be, no music in my ears, or book to read. Just being mindful of the beauty of the trees, the sun and the sound of the birds. It was so peaceful.
There will be times for me, for all of us, when we are alone and we don’t really want to be. The trick to surviving this, is to remember that this solitude is temporary. We should make the most of it to do things that feed our souls and open up new possibilities. Use that time to discover things about ourselves and be free of other people’s expectations. Including our own.
At the same time, it is easy to slip into a state of sadness, where we get so used to being alone that we don’t ask for companionship when we want it most, assuming that other people are too busy with their own lives to have room for anyone else, for us. We should never forget to be with people when we need to. And never be afraid to ask.
Until next time,