“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” -Henry David Thoreau
It’s kind of sad how much pleasure I glean from alone time, but after a week-long trip to Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and back, I was itching for a day free from influences of the outside world. I designated yesterday my “technology-free” day – no TV, no phone, no computer for a straight 24 hours. In other words, my kind of bliss.
The part of traveling I absolutely dread is unpacking. I usually put it off until the last possible minute (when I can’t stand to look at it anymore) but I forced myself to remove everything from my car and promptly shove it into the house. The mess and clutter were almost annihilating so first thing in the morning I got to work putting away the christmas decorations and the rest of the mess in their right place. I had to resist the urge to purge (I’m saving that for another project) but I did take out my frustrations and urge to clean on the floors. What takes me about an hour and a half to clean my house ended up taking me 7 hours and I still haven’t finished the bathroom. But my house is clean and clutter-free and it really does add a lot to my happiness. Plus, for a start to a new year fast approaching, I think it’s important to also have a fresh surrounding.
Being home also means I can cook and eat the foods I really want without over indulging or making myself sick. Throughout my entire trip, I was on a sugar high and eating everything in sight. You’ve heard the old adage feed the cold – well, I took that to new levels. I wanted to start the weekend off right at home and with it being so cold outside, I wanted a rich and hearty stew (but healthy, of course) for comfort food. So, I tried a new beef and lentil soup. True to my nature, I couldn’t make the dish as-is so I opted to put in a few extra ingredients. A myriad of spices but also some extra vegetables like carrots and green beans. They’re pretty simple additions but they also made the stew have more substance.
I especially enjoyed cooking during my “technology-free” day because I didn’t feel like I was in a rush to get things done. Cutting and chopping the vegetables was a simple gesture that I recognized brought clarity and comfort in my own life. Perhaps its the repetitious moves that I find pleasure in or maybe I’m just a little cooky. I paired the stew with a fresh green salad, homemade wheat rolls, and a shock top beer. And for the first time in the two years I have lived in this house, I actually ate my dinner at the dining room table. When I have friends or family over, we always do potluck dinners at the table, but when it’s just me I’m more apt to sit in the living room on the couch in front of the TV. I think I’ve avoided sitting at the dining room table eating alone for the mere fact it reminds me that I am alone. But it was nice and I’m thinking of how to incorporate it into my new year intentions. I should embrace that feeling, not run away from it.
The rest of my night was spent taking pleasure in reading. I got a NOOK for christmas and promptly purchased Gretchen Rubin’s new book Happier at Home, which I have yet had the chance to read. I spent several hours reading her book and was surprised (or maybe not-so surprised) to find that a lot of my new year intentions are goals she took on herself. Although she’s much more eloquent in describing her processes, the book has inspired me to add a few more things to my list.
In the end, my “technology-free” day and alone time provided ample opportunity for a little self-introspection. In particular, I spent a lot of time thinking about why my twenties are so important to me. What do I want out of life? What have I learned so far? How will I appreciate living in the present but also look forward to what the future holds? I’ve been told by a few high school friends that it seems like I have a handle on every aspect of my life. I laugh because to me it feels like I don’t. I feel like I am desperately grasping to find ways that allow me to understand who I am (without someone else around) and to learn to embrace that person. To love them. To look at myself and realize this isn’t just who I am but who I want to be. Maybe I am a little anal and searching for some sense of self-control in this stage of my life where you really don’t have control, but I can try. I am continuing to remind myself to sit with the solitude. To embrace it, explore it, love it. To evolve.