Home > Poetry > Of Living Alone but Not Brooding Too Much About It
Published: Wed Apr 15 1992
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Of Living Alone but Not Brooding Too Much About It

To live alone is to be immensely in charge of the silence

So that, if you have something to think about, you will probably think
_     _ about that something, long and hard; & probably—since you’re
_     _ usually able to—uninterruptedly, too,
Possibly for entire afternoons or evenings, or indeed for whole days
_     _ on end!

Therefore, if you are living alone &—horrors!—are therefore mostly
_     _ by yourself, with only yourself to keep yourself company (except,
_     _ of course, for an occasional visitor!)
It’s especially important, I think, to accomplish things especially
_     _ wisely & well, since—just in case you foul up on things—you’re
_     _ the only one you’re probably going to be able to blame, for things
_     _ that happen to go wrong . . .

Certainly, if you are living alone, it’s important to choose those
_     _ friends & acquaintances, & lovers, too, whom you do see,
_     _ especially wisely & well
—That is, for their benign & unannoying qualities,
Lest they endlessly crowd your mind, & cloud the horizon of your
_     _ thoughtfulness, by giving you pointlessly troubling things to
_     _ think about,
Such as problems they themselves may have refused to solve, or may
_     _ have been unable to solve, in relation to their own lives,

—Possessing, as most people do, the scattering distractions of, say, a
_     _ busily uproarious, merry family; or of highly sociable room-mates
_     _ coming & going like cuckoos popping in & out of cuckoo-clocks;
Or, even, of multiple beeper-units which they have had installed upon
_     _ their telephones, so as to prevent them—should they ever happen
_     _ to be alone, & receive, for example, a thought-provoking phone-
_     _ call—
From having to follow any single thought straight through to its
_     _ natural end.

In-Dwelling Groups know almost nothing about Privacy!

—For there, there is always, inevitably, some erratically interruptive,
_     _ intrusive bit of bullshit going down
Which, minimally, renders the possibility of Continuity Of Thought—
_     _ much less consideration of the mental well-being of those people
_     _ living alone, & who may, therefore, be highly disposed to
_     _ treasuring Continuity Of Thought—
Highly unlikely!; & any serious perspective of sensitivity, vis-à-vis
_     _ the situation of a person living alone—& thus with only himself
_     _ or herself to blame for things that happen to go either right or
_     _ wrong—
In general, almost impossible!

—But persons living alone should not think too much about all this
But rather substitute for many such defensive, negative thoughts as
_     _ those,

The idea, above all, of choosing friends wisely & well
From among those people, for example, who have been responsible
_     _ for themselves, & for themselves alone, for at least some few
_     _ moments, & for at least some continuous time

Within recent memory.

See what's inside AGNI 35

Michael Benedikt is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Sky (Wesleyan, 1970) and Badminton at Great Barrington: Or, Gustave Mahler and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980). (updated 6/2010)

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