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Why I Like Being Completely Alone When I Drink My Coffee MAG
Why I Like Being Completely Alone When I Drink My Coffee
by A. R., Providence, RI
You must understand, I've always been a loner. It's taken me quite a while to reach this conclusion, but I can deny it no longer. Never in my life have I felt truly comfortable at parties or any type of social gathering that involves more than four people. I can only really enjoy loud music if it's either me who's creating it with my drums, or if I'm in my room blasting it by myself.
I can even go so far as to say that I can tolerate cigarette smoke, but only if I happen to be in certain restaurants or diners, and it's limited to Camel ultra lights and Marlboro filters - otherwise forget it. And I could never bring a date to a party. That's a big no-no. One, the music's bad enough without me making a fool of myself and attempting to dance to it. Two, let's face it, the only reason people go to parties anyway is to get smashed from free beer and puke in their friends' cars. Even if I did enjoy participating in this activity, what the hell would my date be doing? And how would I take her home? For some reason I do not find this experience to be extremely fulfilling.
Anyway, something funny happened a few months ago at school. I was eating lunch at the cafeteria, completely alone as usual, sipping my "black wine," when a particular individual whom I care for (not) decided to disturb my peace and inform me of her most recently obtained bit of knowledge that she apparently found flabbergasting.
"Hey Alex," she barked, slapping down her copy of Seventeen magazine onto the table, displaying the extent of her literary capacity.
"Hello," I managed, reluctantly, to squeeze out, hardly bothering to acknowledge her presence.
"Guess what? I just read over this letter by some girl in here - she's so stupid. Listen to this," quoth she, "'I've always been somewhat antisocial. People always make fun of me because of it, but to tell the truth I've never really seen the point of large, loud teenage get-togethers in which people just stand around pretending to have fun. Personally, I'd rather just stay home and read on a Friday night.' Do you believe that? What a geek! Ya gotta be some kind of idiot!"
I simply nodded approvingly, impressed that she could pronounce the word "antisocial."
I was actually pretty confused for a while. I couldn't decide whether to pity her stupidity or envy it. Was this really the limit to the depth of her thoughts? Was this the dominating concept in her mind: "How can I change the grades on my report card so my parents won't find out I flunked gym?"
I pondered this for a while, then lost interest. She had the right to live her life the way she chose, and I had the right to ignore it.
Anyway, even though I had already accepted the fact that I generally prefer spending my time alone quite a while before, this lovely little encounter made me realize that there is an art to being alone. You can be completely alone at a rock concert with six thousand people around you. It's just a matter of how in touch with yourself you are.
Let me clear up one thing before I go on, which is that I definitely don't think it's good to be alone all the time. This leads to self-absorption. (NOT GOOD IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM.) Every-one must get out of themselves once in a while. However, if not enough time is spent alone then you will eventually lose yourself and not have a mind of your own, making your life sort of, well, non-existent.
It's actually become a habit of mine to just go to a coffee shop by myself, sit down, and do nothing but sip my coffee and eavesdrop on other people's conversations. I find it very relaxing and in a twisted way entertaining. Another thing I love to do (on the opposite end of the spectrum) is perform on stage. Sometimes I'm most comfortable and most at home when I'm playing in front of hundreds of people, strange as it may seem. I feel a strong bond with the other members of the band and with the audience, an amazing blend of excitement and relaxation, of outstanding tension and relief. This is my meditation.
So I wonder if I'm really alone when I drink my coffee in a smoke-filled Dunkin Donuts on a Sunday afternoon all by myself. Am I simply diving into the endless sea of secret thoughts, or am I absorbing the personalities that surround me?
For me, being alone has little to do with the actual state of physical atmosphere I happen to be in, but rather a state of mind. Even now, while I type these very words in my empty room, the only one awake in the whole house, I am not alone. I am with you.
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"I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions."-Augusten Burroughs