When I was younger I used to write about how I loved being alone. That time spent in solitude was time spent with my favorites - Merton and Wilder, Hemingway and Adichie. And in some ways it's true. Sometimes solitude feels like a warm blanket or the morning sun kissing my face. Or as Alice Kohler says, "being solitary is being alone well; being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice."
I see the earnestness of my youth and its well-meaning hopes that books could be friends and that I was alone because I wanted to be. And now I look over my shoulder and see there was something escapist about defending my loneliness. As if I was convincing myself that I would actually choose to be lonely. And I don't think it's too much to say that it's brave to admit I don't like being alone. That I'm 30 now and among all the sweet cortados and books and wandering aimlessly through shops with shiny goods, I mostly find myself alone in my house and wishing I wasn't.
Sometimes I get stuck in The Deep Loneliness and it's a scary place. It used to happen so often that I would dread the drive home from the office on Friday nights with no plans and the world ahead of me and my bright eyes. And I would feel like the world was a void and swallowing me up and I was unable to breath. I tell stories about The Deep Loneliness because it's dark and confusing and isn't as frequent now. And it's good to talk about dark places in the light because it honors that the root of goodness isn't always bright.
So I do the work to be alone well. But I also surround myself with fighters and justice-doers and soft-hearted friends and neighbors who bring cheese and wine and tears. Community that doesn't look like me and stretches me and is of my choosing. And the deep loneliness becomes smaller and the blanket of solitude a bit warmer. So I have people, my collection of persons who help me look into those deep places. And they're not afraid when I ask, "is this too deep for the light to reach?"
It never is.