How To Be Alone

This is stunningly beautiful. And I wish everyone would watch it. Twice.


4 Comments to “How To Be Alone”

  1. This was amazing–I shared it with lots of friends. Thanks!

  2. hmmm… Very well done, and her voice is the perfect conduit for the content. So as far as appreciating the art of it, I love it.

    But does she go past “it’s okay to get some silence… push through the anxiety” part (which I totally agree with), to almost encouraging one to not bother engaging sometimes because people don’t really get you anyway? (I’m thinking of the “… but no one is in your thoughts and by the time you translate them something may be lost…” part)

    Additionally, while some “alone-ness” is most definitely “a freedom”, I’ve watched loneliness destroy. I know many people who aren’t really known by anyone… will being excited about their hobbies and their lofty thoughts, in the end, be enough to weather the internal storms?

    I think her intended audience is people who are afraid to be alone in their own space. If this is so, I get it, and agree to a large extent. But I also think she goes beyond this to say something about loneliness that I’m not sure I can agree with. (Even if I do find the created piece beautiful.)

    All of that being said, I really enjoy spoken word, and so rarely hear it used to communicate something that anyone might consider beautiful. In that way, I loved it.

    • I love your comments and thoughts on it Amber. They inspired me to watch it a few more times as I contemplated your concerns.

      First off, I think this is art in a true sense and as a result I think beauty is found in its ability to put forth a message that can be seen/heard differently by each person.

      Yes, I think her audience is the people who are afraid of being alone. I’ve got to admit when I read your question about whether she’s encouraging people to simply not bother with others, I thought, “Oh no! How did I miss that?!” but when I went through it again, I feel like she balances that statement with the part of sitting alone on a bench and the conversations and community that can happen then that wouldn’t have if you weren’t okay being alone in the first place.

      And I agree with you that loneliness can destroy and that seclusion (in body or mind) isn’t healthy, but I felt like the piece spoke to me in a different way. When I first listened I thought she was addressing the people who don’t have many friends, who don’t go out, who are ashamed of their “single” status so they retreat even more- and that she was simply encouraging them to leave the house and be fine with who they are. Telling loners that its okay to be loners.

      The second go around I heard her speaking to who I used to be- the person so overwhelmed by busyness and friends and voices and parties that I had no idea what I thought about any of it. I was along for the ride, choosing to not make choices. To be alone with my own thoughts and feelings seemed terrifying because I didn’t know what I’d find.

      I wasn’t known by anyone because I surrounded myself with everyone.

      I can also identify with the line about going out dancing and not worrying if anyone is watching because they probably aren’t. I wasted years feeling insecure because of my own pride. I didn’t do things I wanted to do because I assumed people would notice and critique me. It was a very childish, “the world revolves around me”, way of thinking.

      Along that same theme, one of my favorite parts is the eating alone and that “some people at full tables will wish they were where you are.”

      I guess what I really love about this piece isn’t the idea of not bothering to interact with others (although I understand how you saw that and share the same concern), but rather the truth that contentment is best found when every person and thing isn’t lined up for comparison. Knowing that you can have a thought, and love the thought without sharing it, simply because its yours.

      Is it ironic that what I take from spoken word art is that every thought doesn’t have to be voiced to be validated?

  3. Totally agree with all your thoughts. And definitely understand the freedom such concepts bring to those of us who have been afraid to be alone with ourselves, or wrestle with the insecurities of choosing to do so.

    Perhaps what I was really getting at (or where I was coming from? not sure…) is that in our time, often communicators don’t bother trying to be clear about what they are – and aren’t – saying. We now perceive this as a good within “art”, but it is not, I think, a good in communication. As Spoken Word most definitely toes the line between the two, perhaps it deserves more criticism than most in its’ communicative aspects? (don’t know on this one, just thinking aloud…)

    (Remembering here a quote from C.S. Lewis that I can’t recall the source of… Looking… did find this one that relates basically the same thing:
    “Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.”
    – C.S. Lewis.
    Of course, this is just one view, but I tend to agree with it.)

    So… while I agree with much of what she says (and find the work beautiful), perhaps she went a little far for my taste in that her communication could be taken by some as an excuse to continue in their cocoon, without the cocoon being a source of transformation to be emerged from (stealing from Kathleen Norris here for the analogy).

    Wow, this post is really incoherent, but as I can’t currently take the time to rework it… here it is 🙂

    Wish we could sit in the same room to chat about this!!

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