“Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.”
~ Winston Churchill
Sitting alone at a table on the patio of a deli along Danau Tamblingan Street in Sanur, cooling off with a glass of cinnamon caramel ice coffee in the company of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things on a weekend afternoon, it would have never occurred to me 12 years ago, that I would be so happy, wholeheartedly, being on my own.
I was never a stranger to the world of being alone. For whatever reason life chose to give me plenty of chances to grow up a lot solo.
Like my years in high school as a socially ostracized teenager first time living away from home, my first two years in university in another country as both a foreign third-culture kid and a fugitive of my own previous life choices without a clear point of social circle, and my several post-schooling months as a returning-‘home’ fresh graduate with a cut-short physical contact to (finally) a freshly-built strong support system.
While adaptation is a rather natural reaction necessary for survival, appreciation never came quite as well-automatized.
Despite the fact that the idea of me spending free evenings by myself frequenting art galleries, concert halls, cafes that offer free sessions to pick up salsa dancing, and all sorts of places encountered by chance that accommodate peaceful writing had come to be seen as rather unusual by everyone else but me, the act of it was still moments I was secretly half-vexed by because I saw them as the unfortunate result of my own prematurely developed independence and evolved lack of urgent need to constantly surround myself with people.
But now as an emerging adult with yet another life contract as a solo-sailing person with no local roots to belong, finding myself one evening at the studio-cafe where I go for my weekly guided meditation, striking up a lively conversation with a foreign music student who had just gotten off his open-mic session, I was awakened to the realization of the magic of the side of life I’ve been privileged to be shown so much of.
The beautiful souls I’ve crossed path and made continuously growing connections with because there is no axis I revolve around and no orbit I’m bound by,
the colorfully festive affair of diverse passions and skill sets I’ve developed because I see no need to wait for an interested company to board along the ship and jump freely into the water with,
the stockpile of courage and coping tricks I’ve accumulated because many a growing-up’s biggest challenges I overcome with limited external support,
the depth of insight I’ve arrived at because there is no construct to limit how much I can question, how far I can stretch my perception, how whole I can unify my understanding of the world.
Those are the blessings with which I know now solitary exists.
Unlike the way I used to believe and the way Google image search results seem to perceive, ‘being alone’ is not a ‘problem’ that needs solving, or worse yet, a condition that needs sympathizing.
It is merely a reality that needs enlivening.
As much as company, Solitary is, a gift. Of life-sustaining peace, of deeply-rooted love, of impeccable growth.
Are there times where I find myself wishing I was sharing a dinner table with my closest friends, listening to the November rain with my sisters and brother, or enjoying a breezy stroll with a significant other?
Do I wish hard enough and dwell on it long enough to sacrifice the rich blessings of moments being on my own?
Honestly? Not anymore. Happily.
So finally, thank you, Solitary. Wholeheartedly.
“And when you get the choice, to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”