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How to be Alone

by Tanya Davis



The words and music to the videopoem of the same name (by Andrea Dorfman). Music and words by Tanya Davis with recording and additional instruments by Timothy Crabtree.


If you are, at first, lonely - be patient.
If you've not been alone much or if, when you were, you weren't okay with it then just wait,
you'll find it's fine to be alone...
once you're embracing it.

We could start with the acceptable places: the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library.
Where you can stall and read the paper,
where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there,

where you can browse the stacks and smell the books
you're not supposed to talk much anyway,
so it's safe there.

There's also the gym.
If you're shy you can hang out with yourself in the mirrors, you can put headphones in.
And there's public transportation
- because we all gotta go places -
and there's prayer and meditation
no one will think less if you're hanging out with your breath
seeking peace and salvation.

Start simple,
things you may have previously avoided based on your avoid-being-alone principles.
The lunch counter, where you will be surrounded by chow-downers,
employees that only have an hour
and their spouses work across town
and so they, like you, will be alone.
Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.

When you are comfortable with eat-lunch-and-run, take yourself out for dinner,
a restaurant with linen and silverware.
You're no less intriguing a person when you're eating solo dessert
and cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger;
in fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.

Go to the movies
where it is dark and soothing
alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.

And, then, take yourself out dancing,
to a club where no one knows you
stand on the outside of the floor
until the lights convince you more and more
and the music shows you.
Dance like no one's watching
('cause they are probably not)
and, if they are, assume it is with best and human intentions,
the way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting.
Dance until you're sweating
and beads of perspiration remind you of life's best things,
down your back like a brook of blessings.

Go to the woods alone and the trees and squirrels will watch for you.
Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets,
there are always statues to talk to

and benches made for sitting
give strangers a shared existence
if only for a minute
and these moments can be so uplifting
and the conversations that you get in
by sitting alone on benches
might have never happened
had you not been there by yourself.

Society is afraid of alone though,
like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements,
like people must have problems if, after awhile, nobody is dating them

But alone is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless
and lonely is healing if you make it.

You could stand, swathed by groups and mobs or hold hands with your partner
look both further and farther
in the endless quest for company,
but no one's in your head
and by the time you translate your thoughts some essence of them may be lost
or perhaps it is just kept,
perhaps in the interest of loving oneself,
perhaps all of those sappy slogans
from preschool over
to high school's groaning
were tokens for holding the lonely at bay.
'cause if you're happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is okay.

It's okay if no one believes like you
all experiences unique, no one has the same synapses
can't think like you
for this be relieved,
keeps it interesting, life's magic things in reach.

And it doesn't mean you aren't connected, that community's not present.
Just take the perspective you get
from being one person alone in one head
and feel the effects of it

Take silence and respect it.
If you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it.
If your family doesn't get you
or a religious sect is not meant for you
don't obsess about it.

You could be, in an instant, surrounded, if you need it.
If your heart is bleeding make the best of it

there is heat in freezing, be a testament


released April 13, 2014


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Tanya Davis Mount Stewart, Prince Edward Island

Tanya Davis is a writer and artist living on Epekwitk / Prince Edward Island. She writes poems, songs, monologues, speeches, and other things.

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