If I remember right, it was in class 8, that we were asked to analyze William Wordsworth’s lyrical poem, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ (more popularly known as ‘Daffodils’). Being a loner at heart, and often indulging in such wanderings myself, I found it easy to relate to this simple yet profound piece of work. My English teacher had applauded it as ‘a sincere and well comprehended analysis’. Having recently lost his brother, Wordsworth was actually melancholic at the time he wrote the poem, but I understood that my own wanderings were not really dismal. ‘Being alone’ did not have to mean ‘being lonely’.
Years later, life nudged me to revisit the cognizance of the 12-year old me. Every decade of life brings new learning, but the forties have been really profound so far. After over two decades of constantly hovering around each other, my husband was suddenly and unexpectedly posted to Bangalore. It brought back solitude in heaps, the minutes piling up like an untidy collection of objects placed haphazardly on top of each other. At first, it was overwhelming, but in due course, the aesthete in me started coherently stacking up the hours in neat, codified piles. It was an opportunity to feed the ‘slow life’ fanatic in me and before I knew it, I was addicted to the unceremoniously strewn moments.
Being raised in patriarchal societies, we women are conditioned to calibrate from a young age and that kind of cumberance eventually becomes a roadblock that we subconciously set up for ourselves. We grow up believing that it is somehow wrong to enjoy a movie on our own or go out with friends if the husband and kids are at home. So one fine day, when solitude comes knocking, we don’t know what to do.
Many years ago, while I was still in junior college, I had to appear for an exam. Having reached the examination centre too early, I decided to grab a sandwich at a nearby restaurant to kill time. It did not occur to me that sitting by myself in a restaurant was such a big deal, but clearly it was. I was catcalled at and stared down with derision. It was mortifying and the incident made me guarded and even more diffident than I already was.
Things are thankfully different now. I recently read that ‘Good at being alone’ is seen as a skill important enough to be put on a resume in countries like Japan. The late Japanese journalist Iwashita Kumiko in 1999 coined an interesting term called O-hitori Sama Kojo Iinkai (the Committee for Advancing the Interests of People Who Do Things Alone). ‘O-hitori sama’, more than anything else, has become a newly coined expression to describe women soloing out, and I am heartened to see that the trend is catching up in Indian cities too. After solo shopping sprees when I now enter a restaurant, it seems unremarkable to say, “Table for one”. As far as ‘3 little words’ go, these are sweeter than any other, putting a spring in my step and a smile on my face on lackluster days. On a deeper level, it is quantum leaps such as these that transform society from the ground up. As individuals, it sets us free.
I’ve never considered myself a ‘spa person’, but after a particularly disorienting day walking the bylanes of Pratunam district in Thailand, I once allowed myself to be coaxed into a foot massage. As the masseuse worked deftly to unknot my muscles, I eased into a trance and an hour later, emerged out of there thoroughly rejuvenated. Solitude is much like that massage, it helps in the unfettering of the fortifications that we entangle ourselves in. There’s something profound about being alone and I am beginning to relish the beauty of it.
Humans are social animals and company is always welcome. So, in essence, I am by no means promoting soloism (if there is such a term), but just upholding the merits of such a state if you ever find yourself in it. These are the fringe benefits of a situation that most people consider somber. The “bliss of solitude” as Wordsworth puts it is worth exploring. Life is so interesting and vast, that time falls short. So it’s prudent to not waste time waiting for company when there is none, but rather go after what ignites us and sets our hearts aflutter. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget that there are lessons to be learned and thoughts to be shared. If while ‘wandering lonely as a cloud’ we can unleash our creativity, share and inspire someone with our experiences, then we can leave knowing we honored the magnanimous gift of life.
13 thoughts on “TABLE FOR ONE”
I love my own company the best .
I’m a loner so can relate to this piece of writing very very well
We need to sit down everyday for a few hours with out thoughts ,it is good rejuvenation atleast to me it is.
Not to forget I love the pics u put up on ur every piece of writing
Keep it up babes with ur beautiful writings
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mavis. As for the photographs, the credit goes to Rhea. 🤗
Thoughts expressed very well as always👍
More often then not, we all like to be all by ourselves
Thanks, Walter. 😊
A nice thought, enjoyed the selection of words and sentences framed..bring out one word for me.”Individuality” . Its very positive to know that the idea of enjoying one’s own company is really being accepted. Makes good reading Reni !!
Thank you, Ajeev. 😘
Been there, seen that. Don’t wish anyone to live a life of solitude l, it sucks!!!!!
😁 Arrey re!
Renica, so aptly you have put the importance of being all by yourself and I strongly feel how much good it does to your well-being and mood upliftment.
Everyone should indulge in this, though it is easier said than done, it gives a tremondous joy and peace òf mind .
Keep up your good writing, the way your describre makes it very picturesque . I immensely enjoy reading your blogs.
Thank you, Harish. Your warm appreciation means a lot.
This is very relatable, Aunty. Very subtle & elegantly put. I can’t even remember the number of times people have frowned upon or advised me against doing things alone, but then there is always that sense of peace and calmness that comes doing things just by yourself. Its unfortunate that the modern world looks upon the word ‘loner’, or ‘lonely’ as a mere negative connotation for being sad or more so, antisocial, yet probably EVERYONE does something or the other which he/she best enjoys doing alone.
I’ve rarely come across such a write up which talks about this topic, Aunty. Kudos to you! Keep writing.
– Your fanboy 💃😘
Such a heartfelt response. Thank you, my fanboy. 🤗
superb ren. loved it. It is a fact that sometimes being alone rejuvenates us 🙂