I don’t necessarily want to be alone, but I do like being left alone.
I find it difficult to understand people who constantly need company.
Every now and then, there appears in the papers a story about some soul who passed away in their own home not to be discovered for several weeks. The community is concerned that such a thing could happen. ‘Who are we becoming?’ shouts the headline. ‘Quiet suburban disgrace,’ bleats another. Full page articles examine the social significance of lonely people. For a week or so countless people discuss the breakdown of society and bemoan our lack of contact with our neighbours.
I, on the other hand, make a mental note of the suburb and add it to a list of likely places to live. I don’t wish anything distasteful should happen to my neighbours but I don’t particularly want to get to know them either. I’m sure that they have enough friends, and I know that I have.
I have a wife who loves me and two teenage children who are bemused by me. They ask for money but rarely listen when I speak, but I don’t blame them because generally speaking, I don’t have much to say that would interest anyone but me.
My wife and children fuss and fret and bang about the house and when it all gets to be too much to bare I announce that I’m going for a walk in the woods to do some painting. No one hears me because no one is listening, so off I go. The painting implements are a ruse; an excuse to do what I need to do; be by myself. The umbrella is heavy to carry but it does come in handy when I feel like dozing off. I also carry a sandwich that I made myself; cheese and pickles, as well as a half bottle of red wine. A ‘door stop’ sandwich and a glass of wine make for a deliciously sleepy state of mind. It doesn’t last; nothing ever does, but that’s okay. I can come back. Either to this spot or to one just like it.
The forest will wait for me, as will the creatures who live here.
In the wider world I have to play a role, but here, I can be me, and I like my company, and I like being left alone.