I spent the day with my son yesterday, and I observed he was a little restless. He wanted to get some friends together but they were busy. We talked about various things he felt like doing, and then he asked me if he could build a hammock in the backyard. I said, “sure” and he headed out with a bunch of duck tape. (Don’t ask).
Later I went out to see how things were going and he seemed quite content and happy to be working on his project. This got me thinking about how things change as our lives go on. I remember being a little younger than him and being kind of restless and lonely when I was playing outside by myself one day. I really wanted some friends to come by so we could do something. Anything. I was a tomboy and I loved being outside, but not really by myself. What fun was that?
Well, skip ahead several decades, and now I find myself loving being alone. Craving it and not always getting enough of it. Last year I came upon this essay written by Oprah Winfrey and it resonated with me. I’d like to share it with you. This is from the October, 2014 issue of O magazine:
Most people would be surprised to know how much time I spend alone. Not lonely. Just alone. With myself.
It’s become a running joke between Gayle and me, ever since our infamous cross-country road trip in 2006, when I put on headphones to “be alone with my thoughts.” Sometimes when she calls, she’ll say, “Whatcha doin? Being alone with your thoughts?”
Yes, I often am. I crave silence. It’s how I balance out the volume that’s necessary to run a network and a magazine and remain somewhat sociable.
What makes me me is being able to return to stillness. Like now: sitting and hearing nothing but the undercurrent hum of my house.
I could be this way for days–fully present. No TV. No radio. No iPod. Nothing to distract me from the words I’m writing on this page.
In my youth, I’d find it odd to be at a party surrounded by loud music and dancing and laughing, and suddenly think, I’ve had enough. I’d rather be home. I often said yes to events I didn’t want to attend, because who would say no to the big-deal happening of the moment, whatever it might be?
I didn’t want to “miss anything.”
Now I know for sure: The only thing you shouldn’t miss is what matters to you.
What I used to consider a quirk, I now fully accept as a part of being true to myself. And I hope you do the same.