Walking the beach the day before a hurricane is just something South Floridians do. Call us crazy, but we know we will be shut indoors for an interminable amount of time, so we need to make the best of the hours we have left before the storm is upon us. Additionally, there is great excitement in challenging the wild and woolly weather. It’s exhilarating seeing the Atlantic whipped into a frenzy and feeling the tropical force winds lift your hair and blowing sand sting your legs.
But in the case of Hurricane Isaias, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I usually do. The beauty of the weather was not working its usual magic. There were so many people walking that the beach looked much like a scene from Night of the Living Dead. I wished it wasn’t so crowded, and I wanted to go home.
I wished I was alone.
And it’s a funny thing.
Because most of us, in these pandemic-ridden times, feel we are alone too much, trapped in our homes, segregated at work. We wear masks and don’t look at each other if we are out running, walking, or cycling as if simply making eye contact will communicate the virus. It’s been a very strange sort of existence. I’ve spoken with many single friends and acquaintances who, as a result of the enforced social isolation, feel on the verge of depression.
But I haven’t yet met anyone else craving solitude. So why was I? Was I the only one, and why did I feel this way now of all times?
A Google search found nothing on people lacking alone time, quite the opposite. Most articles were geared toward those struggling to cope with the loneliness and isolation resulting from social distancing with titles such as. “How to Cope with Loneliness During the Coronavirus Pandemic,” “How to Beat Loneliness During Covid-19,” and “The Loneliness of Covid-19: How to Deal with Your New Life.”
I kept digging, and while I failed to find specifically what I was looking for, I did find an answer.
In 1998, Ester Buchholz, wrote, “We are heading toward a time when, according to the New York Times, ‘portable phones, pagers, and data transmission devices of every sort will keep us terminally in touch.’”
This was written twenty-two years ago, and we’ve long surpassed, “terminally in touch.”
We are over-connected.
Our days are filled with an onslaught of—let’s be honest—bad news. Covid-19, “flattening the curve,” riots, unrest, dissension, and out-and-out hatred and vitriol delivered minute by minute courtesy of social media.
And we can’t escape.
We are told to look up from our phones and stay away from the internet, but for myself and perhaps many of you, that is not enough. We need to counteract everything we’ve just absorbed, all the bad news, all the uneasiness, cleanse ourselves of the sense of dread that has seeped into our lives.
We need an antidote.
We need solitude.
Finally, Buchholz adds, “Now, more than ever, we need our solitude. Being alone gives us the power to regulate and adjust our lives. It can teach us fortitude and the ability to satisfy our own needs. A restorer of energy, the stillness of alone experiences provides us with much-needed rest. It brings forth our longing to explore, our curiosity about the unknown, our will to be an individual, our hopes for freedom. Alonetime is fuel for life.”
“Fuel for life.”
The perfect antitoxin.
*It is not and would never be my intention to make light of those suffering from feelings of loneliness or isolation which is why I’ve included links to the above-mentioned articles. If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, please call 911 for emergency situations, or contact your local mental health hotline. Please do not suffer in silence.