Sunday, December 14, 2008

On misanthropy

I've always enjoyed being by myself. I love just sitting alone and reading a book, messing about on the computer, or even taking a nap. I like going into the office really early, because there's nobody else around.

I've never minded going to restaurants alone. I just take a book. Once, while I was getting my degree in Indiana, my parents were in England, and my son was with his dad in California, I was alone for several weeks. I was working on my thesis, but I decided to take a break one night and go to Grindstone Charley's, a fairly nice restaurant. When I mentioned it later, my mother was shocked that I had gone to a restaurant alone. I, in turn, was shocked that she had never been to one by herself in her life.

I've also gone to movies alone several times. I went to a late-night showing of Jurassic Park when it was still in one of the huge domes of a Century Complex theater. I think they've since subdivided all those into smaller screens. There were three other people in a ~500 seat theater and they all sat down in the front. I had pretty much the entire theater to myself, so I sat back and put my feet up on the chair in front. When the velociraptor lunged for Laura Dern's feet as she was yanked up through the ceiling, I actually jerked my feet back. Embarrassed, I looked around but there was nobody to see....whew!

I used to ride horses a lot, and I loved going out with only the horse for company. My 3/4 Arab 1/4 quarter horse, Thalj Najmah and I would go out for hours just enjoying ourselves. I could talk to her, and I could justify it as not just talking to myself. She was always willing to do whatever I wanted, from suddenly taking off at a mad gallop to herding a neighbors wayward calf back through a hole in the fence (which probably looked odd with my English saddle and jodphurs, but hey)(did I mention I lived in Texas at the time?). I did have a few human friends, but if you ask me who my best friend was when I was a young teenager, I would have to say Najmah.

Now, most of the time I go skiing and ride my bicycle, I spend literally hours alone, and surprisingly to me, find it just as enjoyable as riding a horse. I always thought I had the horse for company, but maybe it's always been just me. Don't get me wrong; I like going with friends, too, but if I waited around for someone to go with, I'd never go.This is the only picture I could find of Najmah. I'm sure my mother has others. The white pony was our much loved Pony of the Americas, Paleface. And there's the Mirror dinghy that my father built one winter when we lived in upstate New York.


artificialhabitat said...

Hmmmm. That post could almost have been written by me.

Enjoying being by myself with a book? Check - there's little better. Not too keen on getting into the office early, that requires getting out of bed, but I've often done it the other way around - by staying late after everyone has gone home. I usually eat at my desk, or wait until the canteen is empty before eating there. I also kind of like being in at the weekends, when the place is pretty much empty.

Eating at restaurants alone? Check. Not something I'd usually bother to go out and do, but I have no problems doing it from time to time.

Going to the cinema alone? Check. Not done it for a while (I have bit more of a social life these days than during other times) but it used to be a fairly regular occurrence.

Going out riding horses? OK, never done that, but substitute 'horse' with 'car' and you're pretty close. When I was an undergrad up in Scotland I used to just hop in the car on sunny evenings and go driving around the coast. Don't recall talking to the car, but I talk to myself, a lot. The only concern I have is not that I talk to myself too much, it's that I've begun to stop caring about getting caught doing it!

Biking alone? Check, well, up until recently, anyway - some kindly individual relieved me of my mountain bike a couple of months ago.

I have certainly spent a lot of time by myself, and have not only got used to it, but have essentialy come to need some time to myself, or I start to get grouchy.

I think that I see myself as a passive misanthrope - I don't actively hate people, I even like the idea of people, I just prefer not to be around them too much.

Interesting post.

Laurie said...

Thanks! That stopping caring thing is probably just a function of getting older. I don't care nearly so much what people think now as I did 10 or 15 years ago. I do worry sometimes that I look a little odd because I'll be thinking something and making a corresponding face without realizing it. I'll never do well at poker.

I actually started writing another post on misanthropy while I was writing this one. I'll finish and post that soon.