It has been a nice, quiet week. I like that. July was busy with travel for both vacation and work, and it’s been comforting to stay home. That doesn’t make for a very interesting post, but it makes me happy. It also makes me think about how the amount of quiet, personal time we need can be such a fundamental difference between people.
I’m pretty self sufficient. I can spend a lot of time alone and be content. In fact, if I spend a lot of time with other people, after awhile I start craving solitude. I suppose that’s true of everyone, but the question is – how much can you take before you want to be left alone for awhile?
Most of the people in my family, like my son Chris, my mother and my sister, are (to my way of thinking) extremely sociable. They love being around other people pretty much all the time and get lonely quickly if left to their own devices. I think that’s actually kind of endearing. I hope they are surrounded by people they enjoy as much as possible. I’m just grateful they understand that as much as I love them and take pleasure in their company, I need corresponding periods away from them to maintain my personal comfort zone, so to speak.
The question I have, is – how do they actually stand all that “togetherness” all the time? Is it as hard for them to imagine why I relish my solitude as it is for me to figure out why they don’t need personal, quiet time?
And I do mean, literally, quiet time, as a matter of fact. I have friends who can’t fall asleep without music or the television making background noise, and who turn on the TV the minute they get up each morning. They just don’t feel comfortable in a quiet house. That sounds like a form of torture to me.
Even when I was a little girl, I would often disappear into my room, close the door, and lose myself in whatever book I was reading. When Chris was little, I’d send him off to read his books or play with toys alone for a little while, but in no time he’d be after me to read to him or play a game – anything but playing by himself. The child couldn’t entertain himself for more than five minutes at a stretch!
So, just comparing the two of us, it seems that our preference for being alone or with others manifests itself when we’re pretty young. Does it change? Do people get better at “playing alone,” or is it ingrained, like having brown eyes or a tendency to do well at sports? Maybe as adults we sometimes have no choice but to entertain ourselves (or to spend more time than we’d like entertaining others!) – but that doesn’t mean we necessarily have learned to enjoy it.
And does enjoying being alone also make it more likely that you appreciate silence around you? Chris likes to have the TV going or music all the time, too. When he is staying with me – and I love it when my son is with me – I must admit that I enjoy the quiet of an early morning even more than usual, since he’s still sleeping peacefully upstairs while I read and sip my coffee.
Can quiet people and sociable people happily coexist? I think they absolutely can, though it would probably make a long term relationship easier and more likely to succeed if a man and woman have similar needs in that respect. For those of us who end up with adored family members who have different expectations, then it becomes a matter of respecting each other’s needs and doing our best to compromise – preferably with love, patience and a little humor.
So, I think this will be a mostly quiet weekend for me. I know I’m going to like that just fine.
I hope your weekend is as quiet – or as stimulating – as you want it to be.