Friday, March 26, 2010

Sleeping Solo

It's a rare occasion, to be waking up alone. It has not, in fact, happened for years. It happened a bit more frequently in the days when I was traveling for conferences, interviews, and other work-related purposes--but even then it was not frequent. So it did feel strange to be going to bed alone, and waking up alone this morning. The reason? We need two cars down in Laguna this weekend, because we will be picking up our family at Los Angeles International on Sunday and bringing them all down to Laguna for next week. And I needed the extra time in my office to wrap things up for a two-week absence.

That's right, two weeks. After our week in Laguna, we're all traveling to Joshua Tree for a couple of days, then back to Los Angeles, with family, for their last three days' vacation. I don't suppose I'll be spending much time in the office until after they have left. So I'm leaving everything in the hands of my new assistant, Emily, and my new Master Navigator of the web, Craig, until I return. The Buddha Diaries will likely be the exception. I usually manage to find a few minutes for these pages, even when I myself am on the road.

So I went to sleep alone, and woke alone this morning. No Ellie, no George. They left yesterday and spent the night at the beach. I'll catch up with them a little later this morning. I took advantage of the unusual quiet in the house and went to bed at nine! And woke, refreshed, at five. Did my meditation, got up, made a cup of tea, and here I sit, in bed still, with The Buddha Diaries. It feels very quiet. Where we live, we are protected from much of the city's sounds by a baffle of trees and shrubbery. Only a soft hum penetrates, to remind us of the world out there.

I am enjoying the solitude. I would not enjoy it nearly so much if I did not know that it was temporary, but it's good to experience it with attention to its particular qualities. The silence. The freedom that it brings: inevitably, when there are two of us, we make small adjustments for each other. When George is here, he has his needs--the morning walk, breakfast... This morning, I am on my own time, and mine alone. I am in my own space, and mine alone. I expect that Ellie is experiencing much the same down in Laguna--though she has George.

In solitude, we are alone with the core of who we are. No expectations from others, no need to perform the role we give ourselves in relationship to them. It's at once exhilarating and a wee bit scary too. The shadow lurks closer to the surface, the existential doubts, the awareness of the sheer strangeness of being alive, surrounded by inanimate objects, by the sense of hidden living beings, the breath of vegetation. Without distractions, the preciousness of life, along with its precariousness, seems all the more acute.

So I relish this moment, even as I miss my intimate companions and my familiar routines. Soon enough, it will be time to get up, set about the preparations to get on the road, catch the news, have a bite of breakfast. For the moment, though, I breathe...


mandt said...

Isn't it truly extraordinary---that thin line what is real and what is true? Often, it comes rather fearful, in spite of our experienced years and accustomed accountability of old friends---habit. I think we can all identify with these lucid lines of yours...well done. m

TaraDharma said...

there is a lovely poem (WCW?) where the poet muses about the joys of living alone, and at the end notes that this fantasy would not be so grand if it were to be true.

Sounds like you have a great time with the family planned - enjoy!