Over on Brainpickings (one of only a few sites I subscribe to that aren’t run by friends), there is a great post on How to be Alone. Here’s the piece that struck me the hardest.

How have we arrived, in the relatively prosperous developed world, at least, at a cultural moment which values autonomy, personal freedom, fulfillment and human rights, and above all individualism, more highly than they have ever been valued before in human history, but at the same time these autonomous, free, self-fulfilling individuals are terrified of being alone with themselves?


We live in a society which sees high self-esteem as a proof of well-being, but we do not want to be intimate with this admirable and desirable person.


We think we are unique, special and deserving of happiness, but we are terrified of being alone.


We are supposed now to seek our own fulfillment, to act on our feelings, to achieve authenticity and personal happiness — but mysteriously not do it on our own.

Today, more than ever, the charge carries both moral judgement and weak logic.

This weekend, a man said to me that he thought I was being disingenuous for wanting a relationship without being “willing to sacrifice anything for it.” By anything, he meant specifically my career and vocation–why should a guy bother to like me, he suggested, if I’m just going to move away? There are a lot of things wrong with that statement, and so I got angry. He said my anger was cute. Other exasperating exchanges occurred. We parted ways not too much later. 

Concession is a tricky business. So far, I’ve been unwilling to make many. Not for long anyway. (I try not to expect them, either. But we are all imperfect animals.) It’s just no way to live, in pieces like that. There are consequences for that behavior, to be sure, and some of them are positive and some negative.

Yet. I hold out hope that it doesn’t have to always be a matter of who wears the leg irons. That somewhere in the world is a door #3, that’s my optimism. I don’t really know what I’m getting at… Just that it was nice to walk away, into the cold night, fueled by a bit righteous self-preservation.  

Goddamn did the frost feel great in my lungs.

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