At some point every day of my life, for as long as I can remember, there has been a tussle – sometimes an all out battle – between my intense desire to be alone with myself without distraction so that I can write, create, think, be, and the opposite desire to commingle, coexist, communicate, co-be, with people I love. What defines it as either a tussle or a battle is my access, or lack thereof, to a separate physical space and ample time in which to be that creative person. If I have plenty of time with myself, my commingling is a warmish and happy affair. If I don’t, my social appearances can feel rather like going out into a snow storm naked.
This is the quintessential Virginia Woolf A Room of One’s Own conundrum. Add to this basic dilemma managing the responsibilities of a fulltime job and the tussle that is sometimes a battle can escalate into a full-fledged war, which it has done often over the course of the past decade.
But even if I do have a room of my own in which to be whatever or whomever I want to be privately, without being watched, judged or interrupted (and thankfully I do at the moment), this won’t necessarily satisfy the Muses, who always beg for more time and attention. Because they are selfish. Because it’s all about them. Because their threats of drenching me in eternal mediocrity, dissatisfaction and unfinished work if I don’t fully commit my time to them are palpable and real. For the Muses are by turns kind or vicious, depending on how much attention I lavish on their whisperings.
In New York the birds that live in the trees in the courtyard at the back of my building wake me up every morning, and come evening they sing more softly as the sun is going down. If one is paying attention birds do have a lovely way of setting the tone at any given moment. But while New York birds don’t often sit for chats on telephone lines, out in the real world they do, such that whenever I travel interstate I’m in danger of driving off the road because I can become easily captivated by Birds on Their Wires – counting out their numbers as I drive, checking out their configurations, how closely they sit together or apart, whether they seem frozen by the cold or are decidedly more chipper on a warm day, and wondering whatever they are thinking or saying to one another.
It seems that wherever I go I am confronted by the To Be Alone or Not To Be Alone question. Even here on G+, which presents the delightful option of sitting alone over here and doing one’s thing, while still within shouting distance of a group of other feathered folk with whom to chat over there.
Ah, me. What to do what to do what to do. The individual post stream. The community. A group. My own website. A room of my own. A hangout with others. I am alone. But I am not.
We are all birds on a wire.
Image by gratuit / Reconciliation