Quite a few years ago I had an argument with my mother in which she accused me of not knowing how to be alone with myself. As a twenty-year-old social butterfly who went out four or five times a week downtown Toronto, I took great offense to her observation. How dare she impose her old-lady (not really, I was just mad at the time) sensibilities on me, when I was living the most fun time of my life? I wasn’t trying to escape solitude, but rather optimizing, and maximizing, my social experiences.
Despite my defensiveness, however, I’ve never forgotten her comment. And I’ll even admit now – seven years later – that she was right. I don’t regret all those fun nights out, but there is a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing that I’ve now learned how to be alone with myself, and enjoy it. My life has changed a lot over these seven years, and now I am surrounded by constant company in the form of my two sons and husband. As a result, alone time is a precious commodity, and something that I look forward to because it contrasts so greatly with the incessant noise and movement of my daily life.
This summer has truly been a quiet, peaceful summer full of solitude, and I’ve loved every day lived at this soul-nourishing, relaxation-inducing speed. Spending long days at home with the boys, going for walks, lying on the sand at the beach while the kids dug holes and built castles, biking on the rail trail around town, getting up at the crack of dawn to do my daily posts for TreeHugger, preparing delicious meals with the incredible produce from our CSA share, preserving those same bountiful vegetables, listening to music, occasionally playing my violin, hanging out with my sister, soaking in the outdoor clawfoot tub on cool evenings while rehashing the day with my husband, and always reading, reading, reading as many books as I can get my hands on… it has been wonderful.
There was a noticeable decrease in the number of parties I went to, the number of evenings spent on the patio eating greasy pub fare and drinking spicy Caesars with friends, the number of times I woke up in the morning feeling groggy and wishing I hadn’t stayed out quite so late or had that extra drink.
Sometimes I feel guilty about it, thinking, “Have I become boring all of a sudden?” Or, “Have I wasted this summer completely?” But then I remind myself that this is what I want right now. I traded in that psychological ‘noise’ for a sense of calm and quiet, and I’ve received a deep mood of mellow contentment.
So whenever anyone asks how my summer was or what we’ve done as a family, I don’t quite know what to say. We’ve done hardly anything exciting, other than a couple small camping trips, a few nice dinners, a trip to the zoo, and visits with extended relatives. In some ways, it’s been quite boring, and yet it’s been exactly what I wanted and needed. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
(N.B. I find it funny that the literal translation of my husband’s Croatian middle name, Tihomir, is “quiet peace” — a humorous descriptor for anyone who knows his fiery, stubborn personality. That’s what made me think of the title for this post.)