As I sat at the dining table reading through a cookbook I had received as a gift last Christmas, sipping coffee, and smelling my bacon sizzling in the pan, my mind wandered as it is wont to do. It meandered down thought trails pondering over solitude, the enjoyment of it in myself, the fear of it in others, why some people need more than others, and how the need for solitude is often mistaken for aloofness by some. Mostly, though, I thought about why I, personally, like solitude.
Early mornings are one of the few times when I can calmly sit and not feel compelled to be “a body in motion.” Even living with Mr. Muse, who is near the extreme end of alone time requirements, as well as our housemate who also requires a great deal of alone time, I suspect we do not all get the amount we prefer, or at least not the quality of alone time we need. That is neither good nor bad, it’s just a fact of living with other people. So, onto my ponderings.
I think early mornings are my favorite time for solitude because most other living creatures are still waking up. The house is generally quiet other than the hum of the refrigerator or whir of the furnace fan. And, critical factor, I usually haven’t opened up the laptop and been dazzled by the plethora of distractions it provides.
Distractions are my nemesis. They are the number one reason I fell off writing for this blog. Well, that and working full-time with a lengthy commute for the previous job. But, to be fair, some of my recent distractions are things like school, work, and daily chores around the house. One cannot get on and stay on the Dean’s List if one does not do one’s homework. One also doesn’t get a paycheck if one doesn’t show up for work, and one would live in utter filth if one did not keep up with the daily chores. So, some distractions are necessary.
“Sometimes, I rather like noise. The testosterone-fueled roar of a football match heard from my back garden; the tired and blissfully happy sounds of a crowd singing along at a festival; the swoosh of a barista’s steam wand. But, most times I prefer peace and quiet.” – Nigel Slater, Notes from the Larder, Feb 26, “A little meal of peace”
But early mornings are also when my mind joins hands with the rest of the world in quietness. The vast quantity of ideas written on individual sheets of toilet paper have not yet begun swirling in the air current of the giant fan in my head. Why? It hasn’t turned on yet. I’m able to pad around the expanse of my mind picking up squares to read the jotted-down notes, decide whether or not that is what I want to think about and either sit and ponder on it or drop it and pick up another square.
Every degree the sun gains in the sky, however, increases the movement in my mind until only a few short hours later (if I’m lucky) my mind is buzzing with a din so loud one could lose their voice trying to shout over it. The giant fan appears to be solar-powered, so I don’t usually have long to enjoy the quiet.
I can hear it now, a couple hours after waking, the fan has turned on, and soon, the scattering of ideas will be whirling. I imagine at these times, my consciousness is studiously hunched over a desk in an obscure corner, furiously writing down ideas on squares of toilet paper and tossing them into the maelstrom of thoughts.
The solitude of early mornings is “me time.” It’s the one time I don’t feel the compulsion to be “on” (unless we have houseguests). It’s the high-quality alone time I need to do the thing I really want to do but don’t seem to have the time for: writing.
Do you enjoy solitude or do you prefer to be around people more?
What time of day is your favorite time for solitude?