Solitude or loneliness. Which is it for you when you are alone?
I hardly ever recall being lonely. Even as a child, I enjoyed solitude. I loved to read, to think, to look at the clouds. I especially loved it when I was old enough to be left alone in our house, even for a short while. I felt grown up and adventurous–not knowing who might call or come. And my time was completely my own. I still love being home alone, though I also love having others here with me.
But when I went to a new school in eighth grade, I did feel lonely. I didn’t know anyone and the other students had already established friendships. I was with my peers, but I was lonely. At the time, no one told me to look for someone else who was alone and get acquainted with her. Finally, a couple of other girls who were alone found me, and once again I had friends.
When the children were living at home, solitude was especially valued, of course. Every mother has had that challenge. I finally understood why our mother spent so much time in the bathroom with the door closed. Two reasons, for her: she kept her Bible there and it gave her time to study, plus she finally got away from all the demands of her busy family. Often, the bathroom is the only resort for a frazzled mom.
But part of the joy of solitude is that it ends. Steve comes home and we enjoy being together and sharing the events of our day. We can laugh and tease and appreciate being together even more after being apart for a few hours.
My mother eventually had all the solitude she needed, turned to loneliness when my father died at age 62. The house sounded hollow and empty–too empty–for her to enjoy it. After a long struggle, she adjusted, but even then one of her greatest joys was having a houseful of company, especially family. But then, for her, everyone was family.
Loneliness has a cure. Finding another lonely person, or calling another lonely person, is often the answer to loneliness. If not someone else who is lonely, call a family or friend and just invite yourself over. I love it when someone asks to come to my house or to go somewhere with me. It says to me that they value being with me. Me! That’s a great feeling.
So if you’re ever feeling lonely, just come on over! We’ll have a cup of coffee or tea or play Qwirkle for a while. Nothing conquers loneliness like time with friends.
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