Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Solitude



"Don’t you want to join us?” I was recently asked by an acquaintance when he ran across me alone after midnight in a coffeehouse that was already almost deserted.

“No, I don’t.”

Franz Kafka


I discovered this quotation when I was about nineteen years old.

You know, back in those years when you were so cool, so enlightened, so (sometimes) full of youthful angst? And crazily enough, the age when you were enjoying such a frantic, fun-filled social life?

It held a certain appeal for me then – despite the fact you’d never have found me alone in an almost deserted coffee house after midnight.

I think I also liked (and still do) the very definite “no” to the invitation. The man had no fear of flaunting social conventions, no fear of offending with his choice to remain alone.

If you are unable to enjoy the pleasure of your company, how do you expect others to?

I still smile when I read this quotation.


20 comments:

oreneta said...

Solitude is something rare for me, but valued mightily....

Shari said...

I second what Oreneta said. I enjoy my "me time". I do enjoy my own company, being alone with my thoughts. I like to turn off my hearing aids and just "listen".

Beth said...

oreneta:
As a daily reader of your blog, I can see how your solitary time is rare!

shari:
I think the ability to enjoy one's own company is quite the accomplishment.

Sherry said...

Beth, first of all, I love the graphic!!!!
Secondly, I love the quote....so sure, so confident, so "take me or leave me, preferably leave me"...

I love my alone/me time so much now. I still love to be with my friends, to get together and "do" things or chat, or have a glass of wine (or a bottle!), but I also love just being by myself..enjoying my time with "me". I've come to a point in my life where my own company is something I value...sometimes more than the company of others. And I've recently come to appreciate that I don't want to squander any of "my" time just to accommodate others or make them feel good. It's a wonderful place to be in life.
Thanks for posting about this today...you gave me a HUGE reminder.
I love how we keep doing this for one another Beth!!

Princess Pointful said...

I was actually thinking about this a great deal yesterday-- how I am so happy that I have become comfortable with solitude.

Lainey-Paney said...

When hubby and I got together, that was one thing he noted about me: I value alone time.
...generally, before dark!

but, I've been known to go to movies alone, or eat out alone. I'm totally okay with that.

hell, I went to France & Egypt by myself!

I enjoy my own company. I enjoy keeping to my own schedule of what I want to do. I'm kind of....selfish that way.

...but, I think I balance it out w/ enjoying the company of others as well.

Mrs. G. said...

I love this quote because it suggests a level of confidence I aspire to. I love being nice and thought of as nice, and I was certainly trained to be nice, but sometimes I just want to just be...alone...and not nice. You know what I'm saying?

All Mod Cons said...

I love my solitude, and I get an awful lot of it. I'm also not afraid to say a straight "No thanks" to anyone I don't wish to be with.

I wonder if my love of solitude will grow into "Anti-People" with old age...

charlotta-love said...

I went to a restaurant once intending to sit by myself. I had a nice book to enjoy plus I enjoy people watching. I walked in with a group of 4 and the hostess assumed I was with them. As she lead them to their table, one of the guys realized I was alone and asked if I wanted to join them. No. I want to be by myself.

I really enjoyed that lunch. :o)

Beth said...

sherry:
To value your "me time" is to value and appreciate yourself. So glad we're both at that place in our lives.
(And thank you for all your reminders.)

princess pointful:
Good for you. Life can become so frantic when one is unable to appreciate quiet, solitary time.

lainey-paney:
That doesn't sound selfish - it sounds as though you know what makes you a happy person.
And, yes, the solitude should definitely be balanced with the company of others.

mrs.g:
Oh, I hear you! Somewhere buried in this blog is a post as to the downside of being considered nice.

all mod cons:
I admire that ability to say "No thanks" to company you do not wish to keep.
As for being Anti-People at an old age, how do you define "old age?" I'm probably there but I'm not anti-people. (Yet.)

charlotta-love:
You experienced a Kafka moment!
I'm envious.

Diesel said...

I love my own company so much that other people can hardly stand me.

Beth said...

I LIKE being by myself! My husband just doesn't understand this...too bad for him. He doesn't know what he's missing!

Beth said...

diesel:
Strangely enough, I understand you.
And I still like you.

beth:
When people who don't enjoy being alone are by themselves, I wonder what they think - or do they try and keep so busy that they don't think?
Maybe they just watch TV.

Dorky Dad said...

Your coffee houses are open after midnight? What gives? The ones here close at like 10 p.m. It's annoying.

Beth said...

dorky dad:
To be honest, I have no idea at what hour coffee houses close here. I'm in bed before midnight. And at my age, one does NOT drink coffee after a certain hour or I will NEVER get to sleep!

Angela said...

What a wonderful quotation! Must. Put. It. To. Use. Soon.

Beth said...

angela:
Go for it! Use it!

patricia said...

Yes, that graphic really caught my eye. Lovely.

Ahhh...solitude. I'd be nothing without it. Even though I had a brother and a sister, I spent a lot of time alone as a kid – drawing, reading, day-dreaming. I still honour and treasure my alone time. How else do you get to know yourself?

That is one thing I have noticed a lot with young kids these days. They cannot bear to be alone. All of my nieces and nephews insisted on having company to play with them, and entertain them, almost on a regular basis. These kids did not learn how to entertain themselves. It's not just something that is very enjoyable, it is, I believe, also a skill. Makes me wonder what these kids will be like as adults.

Ok, old lady rant is over.

Beth said...

patricia:
I think we'd find that a lot of people who write, are creative, etc., spent a great deal of their childhood in solitary pursuits.
Thankfully, my kids are readers and know how to spend time alone with themselves - or, at least, with a good author.

Nomad said...

Infinite wisdom...

Enjoy your week.

:-)