Recently, I had the opportunity to experience being by myself for a whole month. My son and my husband went to Africa for a drumming camp and I stayed home with my youngest daughter. She is 17 years old, independent and enjoying her time off between finishing high school and starting acting school, so I was mostly by myself, but I did not have a boring moment.
The last time Gal was away was over 12 years ago, when he went to be with his mother on her last hours and I stayed home with 3 kids. My youngest was 5 years old and I was not by myself at all.
Surprisingly, most of the people who knew Gal was away asked me how I managed being by myself. I didn’t really understand the question.
They asked me if it wasn’t boring to be on my own. I thought about it for a long time. Why would anyone ask me about being bored on my own? Maybe because they would be bored on their own.
Don’t get me wrong. I love people and I love the company of people. I’m not a loner who likes spending hours on my own. Still, I considered that period an opportunity to do things I couldn’t do with the rest of the family. Maybe a better way of saying it is that when the whole family is here, I prefer to do things with them, and when they are not here, it’s an opportunity to do other things.
Was it boring being by myself?
No! Not at all!
Jean Paul Sartre said, “If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company”. I like being with people and I also like my own company.
What does “boring” mean?
Usually, when one of us is away, the house is quieter. It doesn’t even matter who is away. Whenever someone is missing, we joke about them being the noisy one in the family.
This is simply because when you add a person to a group of people, you add just as many interactions as there were people and just as much need to be considerate and flexible. When you are on your own, there are no interactions and there is no need to be considerate or flexible.
I got up whenever I wanted and only had to consider my own timetable. I ate whenever I wanted (I actually ate much less, because I didn’t have to prepare food for anyone else). I went to bed at unreasonable hours. I went out to meet friends without having to consider who needed the car. I even made a mess that I could never have done with other people were living in the house.
I took things out of the closet and could not finish sorting them by bedtime, so I left them on the floor or on the table and went to bed. In the morning, I just shoved them to one side and sat down to eat. Then, I kept sorting them without rushing to put them back to clear the floor.
It was awesome.
Boredom was never an issue for me. I did miss my family, but I could keep myself busy for years. I actually had the opposite problem. I had to go back to work after New Year’s Day and I still wanted to do so many things that 24 hours a day were not enough.
Being in the moment
In the month before Gal and Tsoof left for Africa, I wrote myself a list of over 300 things I wanted to do. By the time they came back, I hardly did a quarter of it.
It took me a week to realize I wouldn’t do all the things I wanted to do. At first, I was a bit sad and frustrated. I started going to bed around 2am every night (well, every morning) and got up at 7am or 8am. The only reason I could manage such short sleep was that I mediated twice a day. Highly recommended!
So, instead of looking for ways to keep myself busy, I felt pressure to do a lot every day.
A week into being “home alone”, I decided to examine the thoughts and feelings that triggered my pressure, sadness and frustration. I came to the conclusion that when I chose to go out to dinner with my daughter, I also chose not to do the other 299 items on my list. When I did my art, I didn’t do the other 299 items, and so on.
After that, every time I felt pressure, I just told myself I was choosing to do one thing instead of the other. It really helped me and allowed me to be in the moment and enjoy myself, rather than feel time pressure.
It was a blissful feeling. I was built a succulent garden, met with friends, created artwork, wrote in my diary, listened to the music I liked, mediated for hours, all without focusing on what I wasn’t doing.
Making the best of every opportunity
Gal and I are not used to being away from each other for a long time. We have been together for 38 years and since our daughter Eden was born 30 years ago, we had never been apart for that long (Gal ended up being away for 6 weeks and the longest I have ever been away was 5 weeks).
He had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do this camp with our son Tsoof, who is a percussionist, and I was very happy for both of them. The first thing that came into my mind was making the best of this opportunity.
Many people say they want to do many things, but when they have the time, they just procrastinate and don’t do much (then, they describe their time as boring). I was determined to make every minute count. I made sure I was busy and having fun. I kept the house, the business and the regular things running, met with friends, caught up on things I’d had no time for in my busy schedule and sucked the value out of every second of my time.
Some of things I did I had postponed for years. In my mind, I was going to do them when I had the time. For example, working the kids’ albums.
Over the years, I’ve been collecting photos and writing a loving history for my kids in albums. However, In the last few years, I hadn’t added much to them and I really wanted to.
So, I worked on this for hours, feeling love for my family, and I enjoyed every minute. I also realized I would never have spare time to do things for the soul, because I’m always busy with more practical things.
I always have a million things to do. I love it! I am happy to have a million things to do. Boredom is never an issue for me, but it is an illusion to wait until I have time. The only time I have is right now, anyway. I felt soooooooooooo good when I finished the albums that I knew it had been wrong to wait that long.
My goal now is to be able to take time off to do all those things I did last month, and other “things for the soul”, but without having to have the house totally empty for 6 weeks. I’m working on it!
So, here is my recommendation to you. Make a list of all the things you want to do “someday”, when you have the time. Then, make the time to do them, one by one. Life will never be boring that way!
Next week, I’ll share with you my list of 100 things you can do when you are by yourself, so boring will not be in your dictionary.