I have always been an introvert, but I’ve been going through an especially introverted season the past year. Part of it is just limited energy, and needing to listen to my body and my mind when they say, “Rest.” But part of it is also the energizing, filling, settling, rejoicing, worshiping, processing, being that can only happen when no one else is around. Extroverts get their energy from being with people. Introverts can love people, be very social, be even more people-oriented than extroverts, but whether gradually or quickly our energy is being drained by the interaction.
I live with two housemates, one of whom, Mark, is a close friend of eight years. The other one Mark and I found on Craigslist — he’s very nice but not home very much, and we haven’t gotten to know him very well. Mark works from home, so is almost always here. But he, also, is an introvert, so it works out really well. In the evenings, when I get home from work, we chat for a minute or two and then go to our separate corners. Maybe once an hour or so we will chat, when he needs a break from work or I have something funny I want to share. This is almost idyllic to me, to have a friend a couple of rooms away — companionship, but space.
Mark was going away for two or three weeks, and I was a little nervous that I would feel too alone without him here. I wondered if I should try to schedule more time with friends, or a visit with my parents. But I am working a lot these days, and don’t have a lot of social energy. And as it turned out, I needn’t have worried. I have so appreciated these days of solitude. Eloise style, this is what I do:
- Clean the house
- Water the plants
- Walk around the house observing the slow growth of the plants
- Pray (i.e. breathe while directing my attention toward God)
- Drink big glasses of ice water
- Make smoothies
- Sit on the porch
- Email friends
- Watch episodes of The Good Wife
- Read my Facebook feed and comment on friends’ posts
- Pay bills and run errands
- Go for walks and bike rides in the Arboretum
- Take pictures of things
Things I want to do but don’t even have time for because I am doing so many other things I enjoy:
- Write more
- Water the plants in the garden (I think I might not have enough energy and focus to take care of a garden)
- Read German grammar books (for fun, really!)
- Play the guitar and flute
- Go to the farmer’s market Saturday mornings
- Use the grill the previous tenants left behind
I can’t express how much these things fill me up, and I can’t explain why they are so much more filling when I am doing them completely alone. I know part of it is recovery from seven years in a large community. Our community was made up of four adjoining houses, and we generally had around 18 adults and a couple of handfuls of children. For many reasons, I don’t know how I made it so long in such an environment. That’s a subject for another post — for a book, probably. But re: my season of intense solitude, yes, part of it is detox from several years of intense community. I wonder how long it will take me to recover. For now I am so happy not having meetings and gatherings, not having to talk about vision or goals, or deal with crises, or discuss how and whether church discipline applies, or really to discuss and interpret the Bible at all anymore. In theory I would like to be part of a faith community again. But right now I just can’t imagine it.
Mark emailed yesterday to say he would be coming back today. So I’ll have my two-rooms-away friend again. I’ll miss the absolute solitude, but it’ll be good to have him around again.
Do any of you have stories of a season of solitude in your life? One you went through or are still in? I’d love to hear them.