It was the day before my birthday, and I was nearly in a state of panic. How can I fill up a day that used to be spent receiving well-wishers, having lunch with the staff, and enjoying dinner with my family? The Omicron surge has drastically changed our lives. We have to keep ourselves isolated and reluctant to accept guests. Family gatherings have become taboo because of the danger of spreading infection. The Omicron virus is lurking all around, waiting for its next hosts. How does one spend a day alone with this new normal, especially one’s birthday?
Being alone is associated with loneliness, anxiety, depression, obesity, and heart diseases. But being alone is not synonymous with loneliness. It carries distinct advantages. We can do things at our own pace and our style without distractions. We are freed from the opinions and influence of others.
There was hardly any time to feel isolated. It was pure joy to receive and respond to so many messages from apps on my phone and my Facebook account. It was a time to discover how much we are valued and loved by family members, friends, and colleagues. I am awed at how much time they spent expressing their affirmation and kind thoughts in words. We cannot fully realize the value of our work and our own person until images of who we are and what we have done are articulated by others, especially by people we consider as strangers. Being alone is a time for a more profound discovery of who we are. It is also a time to realize the importance of giving the same joy to others. We cannot be a recipient of kindness all the time. We are called upon to be a cheerful and generous giver. I am now resolved to return the kindness of others, especially from friends of long ago and those I consider as “strangers.” I will take the time to express and articulate my appreciation of how much they have contributed to my life and wish them well.
Being alone can be liberating. We can watch a movie or a TV program without worrying about what others think or being embarrassed that sad movies make us cry. We can focus on the plot, the characters, and the visuals. Yesterday, I found myself thoroughly enjoying a romantic film with Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor. It was an incredible feeling compared to the pressure of watching a Karate or an action movie simply because you had to appease a companion.
Aloneness is a time for learning and discovery. I found true delight in listening to my 5-year old grandnephew Marco as he showed me how to browse through the internet to watch cartoons. He even showed me how to share the screen using one’s phone. I sang a duet with him as he flashed a scene from the movie “Frozen”. We were both out of tune but sang with gusto.
It was time for rejuvenation and doing things that make us feel good. I took time for a morning stroll and connected with nature. The morning chill took me back to my childhood when the January air smelled like “pinipig” (a rice variety raised in farms). We had to don our sweaters because the weather was quite cold. Climate change has taken away such joy. Fortunately, the memories remain. Walks taken in solitude provide us with opportunities for reminiscences and a time to be grateful for the blessings we have received. Every morning is a gift. The ability to walk, hear, and see– how often have we taken them for granted.
Being alone is the best time for prayers. We can mean every word in prayer without being mechanical. I automatically raised my arm in prayer and felt the closeness of our Supreme Being.
Before I knew it, the day was almost over. I did not only survive being home alone but thoroughly enjoyed being with myself.
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