Being alone isn’t a simple equation where one plus none equals…
Sometimes, it equals freedom. The ability to do what I want, when I want, without worrying about other peoples’ agendas and timelines.
Other times, it means that I have no one to share my surprises with. No one to call when I’m happy and want to enjoy it with – sharing a great joke, a great sunset or a great life… As Gordon Sumner (a.k.a. Sting) sang in one of my favorite boating songs, Valparaiso, “…how will she know of the devils I’ve seen.”
Then there are times that I feel real, centered and alive…and yet, sometimes, that makes me feel a little guilty. I question if I am selfish, self-centered, or greedy? Yet, I always come to the conclusion that I am not.
I am a loaner by nature.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve known that I was an individual long before I knew what it meant to be part of a team. If wanted to hike out to my favorite lake to go fishing, about three or four miles away, through the woods behind my elementary school, I would do it without hesitation. If someone wanted to tag along, great! No problem… Let’s meet at 9:00 AM at my house and we’ll take off. Oh, bring lunch and something to drink as there is nothing…nothing…out there. It only took a couple of times of being stood up or worse, having my agenda changed due to their whims/lack of planning/inconsiderations/them being themselves to realize that, “Screw this! I’ll give them 15 minutes. After that, they can catch up to me.”.
Again, I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old when that epiphany hit.
A couple of years later, when I was 11 and in love with the outdoors, I wanted to join the Cub Scouts, but they wouldn’t let me join their organization. Their reason? There were no uniforms that would fit a 5′ 6″, 150 pound pre-teen (oh-yeah, I was a big boy). I took it hard, sure, but I also read their manual and went out and did it all by myself in about a month. I then moved onto the Boy Scouts manual and cruised through it…
What did I learn from that little life lesson? That ‘organizations’ that promote teamwork have no problem excluding those who don’t fit in with ‘their’ uniformity…
One of my favorite authors, Anneli Rufus, wrote a great book titled Party of One: the Loners’ Manifesto (http://www.annelirufus.com/partyofone/) which I find defining; “Maybe we’re not holed up in caves all day, or in submarines like Captain Nemo in his Nautilus. But alone we feel most normal. Most ourselves. Most alive.”
Those are the thoughts that are running rampant through my mind these days as my girlfriend and I have split up after being together for more than two years. There wasn’t any drama as it was planned heartbreak: She as going to go off to another college to work on her degree and I was supposed to be casting off on my Pacific Cruise aboard Sine Metu about two months later. But, and here’s the rub, she turned down a couple of scholarships so that she could shift majors at her current school and the cutting of my dock lines was delayed since the project I’m on was extended to next April; so, we are both in town and yet, we’re both single.
She’s an amazing young woman and I love her oh-so many wondrous qualities, but I wish we were together. She’s great, but she’s gone and I miss her.
This is also a not-so subtle reminder that I won’t have anyone with me while sailing for weeks at a time except for those who read this. And while that doesn’t scare me — being alone doesn’t equal being lonely — it’s a sad reminder that I will not have her to share a perfect sunset with, or to share our mutual amazement with when a pod of dolphins swim by with even if it’s just via email or the occasional phone call from some random South Pacific island.
Yeah, I think I’m guilty of wanting to explore the limits of what a long distance relationship can withstand.
I have always known that this would be the case and I need to look at this as my emotional sea trials. This is where I steel myself emotionally for the future voyage. To fortify my soul by embracing my goals and to truly advance confidently in the direction of my dreams, and endeavor to live the life which I have imagined to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau.
Alone doesn’t mean that I’m lonely…and for now, I have to keep telling myself that.