how to be alone (and feel like Miranda July)

I think one of the most juicily satisfying and yet simple tricks for feeling pretty damn happy with yourself is to go see a movie on your own. It’s a big deal. Then you realise it’s a no-brainer (no one sees you in there, you’re completely occupied). Then you come out and want to high-five yourself royally because you just overcame a big deal.


Alone is not lonely

Far from it. Aloneness is an antidote for loneliness. When you sit alone, you get to know yourself. You like yourself a bit for doing it. Then you can like everyone else a bit more, too. And you connect. Aloneness fixes loneliness. I’m never more lonely than when I’m in a crowded room  and “I” am lost in the din of it all.

A little while alone in your room will prove more valuable than anything else that could ever be given you. –Rumi

Experiment playfully

I recommend the solo movie thing to anyone who feels they’re losing themselves in the din of life. Doing things on your own is so healing. Concertedly doing them – as a fun experiment? – is wonderful practice for coming home to yourself. You’ve done the movie thing? What about going out to dinner alone? What I like about it (and I’ve done it often): the slightly prickly awareness that you are doing something a little out of place brings your awareness smack back onto what you’re doing. It encourages mindfulness. It also makes you feel rather unique for Being Someone Who Can Dine Solo. A little smug, a little soulfully special.

I feel the same way about solitude as some people feel about the blessing of the church. It’s the light of grace for me. I never close my door behind me without the awareness that I am carrying out an act of mercy toward myself. –Peter Høeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow

Push yourself. (dance?)

Have you seen this video of artist Tanya Davis’ poem “How to Be Alone”? It’s really rather kooky and delicate. I got swept up in the very Miranda July-esque aesthetic of it. She takes the “doing things on your own” one step further: she goes dancing alone.

And, you know what, this weekend – gulp – I’m going to do the same. I shall report back.

I like these quotes from her poem: “If you are at first, lonely, be patient. Just wait. You’ll find it’s fine to be alone, once you embrace it.”

Some more apt quotes for your enjoyment:

Being a loner is not about hate, but need: We need what others dread. We dread what others need.Anneli Rufus, Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto

Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god. –Aristotle, Politics

People who need people are threatened by people who don’t. The idea of seeking contentment alone is heretical, for society steadfastly decrees that our completeness lies in others. –Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories of Splendid Solitude

But your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths. –Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, letter #4

What are some other tricks for enjoying being alone? What do you do? Come on, share, so we can all feel good about what we might do…

Share this post