There is never any end to things like dishes and other kinds of housework.  As human beings we create messes and need to clean up after ourselves.  Dust accumulates while we are not watching and just when you thought you had a place for everything and everything in its place you decide to redecorate or someone else comes to visit and moves your stuff.  Life’s like that.

At the moment I am researching the balance between alone time and with time.  These past few years I have spent a lot of time alone. My new doctor seemed concerned when he asked if I lived alone and I said yes.  He prescribed outings everyday, spending time with friends and family and getting involved in the community as if I had some sort of disease.  He unnerved me enough that I didn’t go straight home where I would have been alone but chose to go to the nearest Chapters/Starbucks to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations for a while.  Of course listening to conversations is what I do best.

The Doctor got me thinking.  How much time alone is too much?  How much time should you spend with friends and family?  What’s the balance that works best?

I know that the answers to these questions are as individual as a finger print and that those answers are cyclical depending on time of life but there must be some general rules that I could use to make sure I don’t get what ever horrible ailment lurks in the shadows of my condo or my lake house when no one else is there but me.  I really don’t mind spending time alone as much as I used to.  I have lots of friends and I enjoy curling and yoga and tap dancing with others when those activities are in season.  I often say I have enough friends and, like in other aspects of my life, I am simplifying and down sizing my friend list.  It is a great list of wonderful people who already know me so I don’t have to explain myself and my life to new people, like my new doctor, who doesn’t quite get it.  I find that aspect of new relationships difficult.  I always feel judged.

I raised four kids and they were all teenagers at the same time.  I know what NOT alone is.  This week I am being reminded of what that was like as I entertain my grand kids and their friends at the Lake for a few days.  Cooking and cleaning and then cooking and cleaning again and then doing laundry and sweeping floors etc, etc, etc.  It takes me back and I wonder how I did that and taught high school full time and completed course work for my masters and coached a sports team. In those days I was only ever alone in the bath tub and when I sat down to watch MASH on TV.  No body bothered me then.

These days I feel as if I may have gone too far to the other extreme.  I find my self NOT doing things I might enjoy because I have no one to go with me.  Everyone has their own lives to live and those lives don’t always coincide with my need for companionship …. so I stay home.  Alone at home or alone in a crowd seem the same to me but maybe I am missing something.  Maybe I could start being out with people without knowing them.  Maybe the key to balancing the need for social interaction and the need for solitude is there in the together with strangers approach.  Those strangers are also doing what I wanted to do so maybe we can connect.   A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet, right? It takes courage and curiousity.  I’ll call it research….