I have been reading a book in which there is a character, Michael, who struggles with learning in school. He is bright but cannot read. In fact, he cannot think well at all while he is in school. When he is outside, though, he becomes insightful, poetic, creative, and assertive. When he is not in school he becomes what teachers hope their students will be when they are in school.
Until this week I had bought in to the idea that for emotional and psychological well-being, I should get out more. I should be at other people’s homes, community meeting places, volunteer centres, and so on. I should socialize more. I should visit more people more often. I should “get more involved” by volunteering. Ironically, “getting out” more actually means being inside more–just not inside my own home.
While the collective wisdom about socializing is probably sound, it is also a lot of pressure. The implication is that an improvement is in order. But is it, really? Two days ago, it dawned on me; being home alone is OK. Phew! I feel better already.
For two days now I have been enjoying the view from my living room, reading, chatting online, weeding the garden, going for walks, and not actually talking to anyone. In fact, it has been a lot more than a couple of days since I talked to anyone, but it has only been the last two days in which I have not felt bad about that.
It is quiet in my house. I can hear the fridge humming, the clock ticking, the traffic going by, and I can hear my own thoughts. They aren’t big thoughts. Just ordinary everyday little thoughts that need a place to stay for a while.
I like my friends and family, and I enjoy their company. What I don’t enjoy is the constant nagging feeling that solitude is bad for me. Now I realize that it isn’t bad for me. In fact, it is very good for me.
For Michael, getting out more meant the freedom to go outside to think and to feel confident in those thoughts. For me staying inside means I can think, I can feel confident, and I can relax. Inasmuch as Michael experienced freedom to think when he left the classroom, by staying home I am getting out more.