Routine Silence


A tree outside the forest is still a tree.

A tree outside the forest is still a tree.

I am an introvert. I know that I’ve said this before but it has been on my mind for the past week.

For the past ten days I was on the road: Los Angeles to Chicago where I premiered a short film and my husband and I visited with family, then to Minnesota to visit a friend, and then back to Chicago to fly back to LA. This would have been a fairly intense travel experience for anyone but for someone like me who needs a lot of alone time it was a marathon. By the time we made it back to our apartment last night I was running strictly on automatic pilot.

I am beginning to realize that for me not getting enough time alone is like being sleep deprived. For a while it is possible to get by on nervous energy. Then it becomes harder and harder to keep strong emotions in check. Then it becomes harder and harder to think. Then tasks that you do everyday like writing 365 words of a blog or remembering to floss your teeth seem like huge drags. Your brain seems to be very far away.

If you follow my blog you probably saw this in action: On March 6th I wrote “Dark on Grey” about my observations about being back in Chicago. I wrote it while I was on the bus heading up to Minnesota and even though I was writing it on my phone (I have never hated touch screen technology so much as when I was trying to blog on my phone on a moving bus) I still managed to make some clear observations and reach my word limit.

My next post on March 7th, “Megabus and Minnesota” was written after spending eight hours on the bus to Minneapolis. It falls short of the 365 word goal, but is still reasonably well structured even if it is a bit of a this-is-what-I-did journal entry. The bus ride was quiet and I spent it reading and dozing which should be very relaxing to an introvert, but it isn’t the same as being alone and my “solitude-deprivation” was beginning to show.

My next post “Long Away and Far Ago” on March 8th is barely a third of my goal length. I wrote it after spending 12-14 hours of being straight up social while visiting my friend. It was her birthday and we spent the day clothes shopping, bridal dress shopping, and celebrating her birthday with a small group of her friends. All of this I legitimately enjoyed, but by the time I tried to use my brain again to write a blog post I was literally falling asleep between words and gave up without making a point.

On March 9th I wrote “Home And Home And Home” while on the bus heading back to Chicago. Quiet but not alone. I really tried to make a point, but I’m still not really sure what it was. I kept getting misty-eyed about the fact that it was misty out. I felt like I wanted to cry but I didn’t have anything to cry about. I told myself it was because I was just tired, but for most of the bus ride I couldn’t sleep.

On March 10th I didn’t write anything. I couldn’t have if I’d wanted to. I got off the bus in Chicago (not alone) and took a train out to the suburbs (not alone) and did breakfast with my husband’s folks and his sister and brother-in-law and his two nieces who are six and three (emphatically NOT ALONE). Then we drove to the airport together (not alone) and sat in the airport (not alone) and on the plane (not alone) until we got picked up at the airport by my sister (not alone) and made it home. My husband kept making his worried-about-you expression at me and I kept saying that I was just “tired” because that was the closest I could come to describing the sense of being locked out of my own brain.

It wasn’t until this morning, after I had a chance to just be alone in silence that I could even articulate what had been going on. It was such a relief to be by myself again.

So the moral of the story is that I need to plan in time to be alone  when I travel: literally, physically alone. In the early part of the week I was OK even though I was busy preparing to premiere a film because I had time to myself while running errands. Driving a car by myself seems to count. Maybe the solution is as simple as taking solitary drives each day that I am on the road.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 11, 2013.

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