August 31 – Alone Time

Imagination and creativity require long periods of noodling around, generally doing nothing. Our thoughts need air; we must give them space to breathe. Alone time does that for us. We need not only be alone, but also to be doing nothing in particular. Our minds need rest, and that is often best accomplished by distracting our bodies with something to do while we let our minds wander. Tinkering, puttering, these are all great words to capture this human experience. There is nothing like the alone time of getting lost in a craft, tinkering around the house, fixing something, completing a puzzle, or painting your emotions. Alone time is precious and a necessity of life, however we get it.  

low angle photography of brown wooden dock at golden house

On this, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

“What wonderful words: moodling, dawdling, and puttering! I have a friend who says that she likes to ‘frither.’ The word sounds just like what it is: putzing—really doing nothing.

I used to have a big dog named Bubber who was one of my most important teachers. He used to sit out on our deck up in the mountains and just look. It was difficult for me to imagine what he was looking at all the time, so one day I just went out and sat beside him and ‘looked.’ I sat with him for a long time and experienced just sitting and just looking. I learned to take time just to sit and look. One sees so much when one just sits and looks. Doing nothing else . . . just looking. 

Bubber has since died, and his great wisdom in having taught me to sit and look lives on.”

Pets often prove to be teachers of the greatest lessons in life. There is something to be said for slowing down to live in the moment. To simply sit and observe. To not worry about what comes next, or whether or not you’re making the most productive use of your time. When did life become all about maintaining 100 percent efficiency all of the time? It’s easy to forget that time is a human invention; animals live according to natural instinct without measures of success or time. They simply exist from one moment to the next, living each as it comes. We can’t even imagine what it is to live this way, but when we were children, we did. We had to learn how to tell time, just as we had to learn how to do work at school to recieve a grade. 

To be a functioning adult in soceity, we have to pay attention to time and measures of success, but it serves us well to use alone time to escape from the rat race. Time when we can simply get lost in the moment, without worry or thought for the future or anything else. It helps us reignite our spark of creativity, so we can keep going. Dilly dallying and otherwise messing around is part of the process.

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