Table for One
Last night, I conducted an experiment. And as expected, I came away with an Unexpected Health insight…the health we experience from being alone. Now, let me first differentiate between being alone and being lonely. Being alone is literally being by yourself, but there are no emotional connections involved. Being lonely, on the other hand, implies a sadness from being without another. My unexpected health came from being alone (although by the end of 177 days, I may just find some unexpected health in loneliness too!).
Back to my experiment. I met my good friend yesterday afternoon. We were beginning our girls weekend to South Lake Tahoe, but before we headed up the mountain, she had a client dinner she had to go to. So, we went down to the hotel bar to wait for her client. Her client came about 15 minutes later and they headed off to the restaurant. The plan was for me to meet up with the dinner party afterward, so I had brought my laptop to the hotel room so I could go up and write while my friend was eating. Well, after they left, I decided to stay at the bar and just people watch. But I had an ulterior motive. I wanted to see how long I could just “hang” at a bar by myself–on a Saturday night–without using my phone (or alcohol) as a crutch.
So there I sat. I even stayed at a table right near the entrance, so there was no hiding or lurking in the corner of the bar for me. I could have easily bellied-up to the bar, reenacting a “Cheers” episode, but I didn’t. I also made sure to keep my phone in my purse (except to answer one text message) and only allowed myself to have my small notepad out to take down any thoughts I had. Well, my pen nearly ran out of ink from all the insight I gained from being alone. But the most poignant unexpected health I discovered was how being alone makes you appreciate others, and being grateful for people in our lives is healthy. I have always enjoyed time to myself. But, what I found last night is that I enjoy time to myself because I know that I will soon be surrounded by friends and loved ones. Sitting in a room full of conversations, interactions, laughs, and stories shared between friends made me appreciate that although I was sitting alone for a few hours, my aloneness had a time limit. I knew that eventually, I would reconnect.
We all need times of being alone and times of being together. I once heard this fantastic little nugget of wisdom: “You have to go in to go out.” This is an important practice. When we are alone, we gain perspective. We have the opportunity to contemplate our lives, our decisions, our goals. These times of being alone prepare us to live the most healthFUL life when we are out in the world. So, the next time you are given the opportunity to be by yourself, take it! Put away your cell phone, your laptop, and your work and just be. It is a little awkward; it feels a little uneasy, I’ll be honest. But the insight–the health–you experience from the journey alone equips you to better connect to the next person about to enter your life…or sit at your table. -Until tomorrow, Jaime
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