Lessons From the Road

February 16, 2017

 Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape. – bell hooks

This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.  -Elizabeth Gilbert

On a more practical level, I am learning what it means to be a single woman in the world. I have not had this experience since I was 18.  I know what it means now to go to a party single, without a spouse or a boyfriend; being the third wheel, to not have the advantage of debriefing on the way home and learning from one another. It is a very odd experience. Sometimes I have felt the need to defend myself, as if it’s wrong to be single, or letting people know I am okay because they feel concerned for my happiness. Sometimes I found myself not part of the conversation, not included because it was a bonding time for the other two in a couple.

Mostly, I felt the loneliness a woman can feel in a social situation. What is striking is not that I am now one of a class of people who must go it alone, voluntary or not, but that I have never had a sense of sympathy or understanding prior to now. Of course, some find being single in any situation not difficult at all. I am addressing those times where it is awkward to be alone in a crowd and having no connection to someone I love. I am learning to be sensitive to this.

So now I am alone, and I actually like some aspects of it. I like the feeling of going somewhere and knowing I am free to come and go as I please. But the flip side is there is no one to share the experiences with, no one to bounce off ideas and to have fun with; to have someone with me as I feel sadness or pain, to turn to and laugh at the same thing we see and perceive. I now have the chance to see another point of view.

And, arrogance. I have had my turn at understanding my own arrogance in a few situations. One is assumptions I make as being a white woman of privilege on the road. I have come to see my mostly left-coaster viewpoints as one of privilege and not of principle (mostly!). I have assumed that all must feel as I do in some way. Unconsciously, of course. For example, one MUST always recycle and have a place to recycle. Well, it turns out that many states do not have the facilities to recycle all materials and thus we throw away a lot of items to the landfill. But, this attitude is based on ignorance. I entered the situation with the assumption that EVERYONE SHOULD recycle ALL materials whenever possible.  A rather uppity stance.

Another is based on the fact that I mostly have money and assume I will always have the means to get money. This is not the case for many. I found myself entering into conversations where my assumption is that the person can find the means to accomplish or acquire something. Again, not always the case. Education in the most experiential way! Yes, intellectually, this is easy to see, but attitudes? Not always caught up to speed.

Lastly, the arrogance of being able to speak to anyone on the street as an entitlement. I have always considered myself friendly and easy to talk to. But, as a service dog owner, I found this reversed in a way that taught me how this can be intrusive.  People have asked me why I have a service dog, what does she do for me and what did it take to get this status. (Questions not really okay to ask) Normally this would have been fine. However, I have a secret to keep and having people ask me these questions meant I had to lie. It occurred to me that when I engage others in discussions they might not want to divulge the who and why of themselves. Which is totally fine. I had the ‘aha’ that let me see I need to be more aware of others and the signals we give each other to determine what level of interest they might have. I really felt the embarrassment of how in the past I have been so intrusive just so I could talk with them.  (True confessions!)

Hoping your December holidays were great! Realizing they might have been tainted by the election, a saving grace was the March! I marched in Dallas, TX with my dreamer friends and loved every minute of it. Came back to chaos in the White House and feel the need to really step up and do something about our direction. If anyone is aware of events, protests, etc, occurring in the south, up the east coast and across the US and Canada, please let me know. I will try and attend those actions before I settle in Oregon.

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Bobby, our host in Dallas

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Michele, who was gifted this pussy hat on the march itself

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Lastly, I’d like to tell you about the experience of staying with friends these last 6 weeks. Deble, a good friend in Santa Rosa hosted me for many weeks and let Lympia and I go as we pleased while enjoying her daughter, Alexis as well. It was wonderful to be unencumbered with responsibilities and to know it wasn’t a burden on her. Also, Jane (Vallejo) and Bobby (Texas) were incredible too. And! Jane’s husband, Harvey took care of Lympia and another dog while we were in Dallas! Wow, that was a gift. Thank you, Harvey! It’s been great to be with good friends – like a shot in the arm before I head off for several months.

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Deble on the beach at Half Moon Bay

I was able to see friends in my groups: Course in Miracles, Dream group and Monday night meditation, as well as the Moms group. Loved it all!

allisonme-crockett3Me and Allison in Crockett

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On a walk in SLO with Joe

Camping in drenched Felton, just outside of Santa Cruz and it’s incredible. All the gushing of the creeks and river is glorious! But, I worried I’d be swept away by the current! Spent some lovely time with my dharma buddy, Sheila and her husband Joe in San Louis Obispo (SLO).

Because I have waited so long to publish this post, I have needed to amend the writing and thus taking even longer to post.

I spent some lovely time with Matt who tried to give as much time as possible for me even though he is incredibly busy with a great ‘Millenials Don’t Suck’ podcast, performances for his theater company, New Guard, and lastly, his day job with JP/HRO. So, I felt pretty lucky for any time he was able to spend with me.

I also got a chance to spend time with a fellow dreamer, Michele in Monrovia, LA. Neat little town.

Then, a few days with my brother, Roy in Phoenix, AZ. We visited the National Museum of Musical Instruments. Wow! Fantastic!! We also got a chance to go up to Prescott, AZ, a little town with a sweet downtown and a lovely man-made lake. It was wonderful just to be with him.

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Roy and me at the Musical Instrument Museum

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This work of art is done meticulously in mother of pearl

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A wonderful building in downtown Prescott – check out the deer at the top of the building!

I know I am rushing through this, but I feel so remiss in not communicating with you all sooner. After Roy left, I headed for Las Cruces, and now in Alpine, Texas where I will attempt to visit Big Bend National Park 1.5 hours south.  There is also Fort Davis, where there is also a lot to see. I will keep you posted!

 

So much love to you all,

Elizabeth

 

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and–in spite of True Romance magazines–we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely–at least, not all the time–but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.” -Hunter S. Thompson

 

“Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.” -Alice Koller

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Lessons From the Road

  1. Elizabeth,

    Your posts just keep getting deeper, and more honest. They always bring me to tears. I really know what you are talking about when you speak of being alone vs being lonely, and how it is often both. And, you can be partnered and still feel alone and lonely. But where you hit the truth is that we are always alone and must come to terms with that.

    I encourage you to get i touch with Sophie when you know when you’ll be in New Orleans, especailly prior to meeting up with Debl. I think you and Soph will have a better time if its just the two of you. There are a couple of places I want to send you to, but I can’t look them up right now. I will, though and send along.

    I’m settling into some kind of live-with-Trump that isn’t constantly disparing and flailing. I’ve gone back to doing what I was doing before the monster with my social justice and animal welfare organizations and it feels good to be doing things locally. I also do things nationally if I think they will be effective. Trying to be kind and thoughtful with Michael and those around me, and not project my disgruntlement and irritaiton. Good practise!

    Take good care and keep writing.

    Cynthia

    On Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 5:15 PM, On the Road Again wrote:

    > elizabethlittlesite posted: “February 16, 2017 Knowing how to be solitary > is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with > others without using them as a means of escape. – bell hooks This was my > moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only c” >

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    • Oh, Cynthia! Thanks for this. I really appreciate the response and the time you took to write. These posts are always so difficult for me and I never know what it is I should say, so I end up writing what is real for me at that moment. I am glad it spoke to you. I will contact Sophie. Did you give me her contact info? Can’t remember. I will keep in touch and I send you love, E

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  2. Barbara Frierson says:

    Enjoyed your post and pictures, as always. You often leave me with more questions than answers, and that’s a great “pointer” for me! There are lots of post-Women’s -March events on the east coast and in our area…if you’ll be in Virginia or West Virginia on your travels, let me know approximately when and I will update you. I’ll be in California April 30 – May 20. Namaste.

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    • Thank you, Barbara! I will definitely be in Virginia and will contact you for more info. Thanks so much for keeping up with the posts. As I wrote before, it is not an easy thing for me and I appreciate your comments. Love, E

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  3. barbbreslaucomcastnet says:

    Thanks for another thoughtful post, Elizabeth,
    I remember my first lover when I was single after 25 years of marriage telling me that I needed to love myself before I would be ready to find a new love. I remember relishing the freedom to do things I wanted that my first husband would not have liked or would have objected to or been uncomfortable with. And I remember the expanded awareness I felt in being in my own and listening more deeply to my own voice. I remember the new sense of loving myself as I made love to new lovers.

    But today as I read your post I am also aware of how much I have enjoyed being married, being part of a committed, loving pair for almost 50 years, most of my life. And today I dread losing my sweet husband who is 10 years older than I am. Perhaps it is the loss of my son that has thrown me off kilter. Perhaps my new experience of death and grief has made me feel less adventuresome.

    Knowing you have felt and experienced all of these emotions and continue to take the next steps, one at a time, is both reassuring and inspiring.

    Thank you, please keep the posts coming.

    With love and gratitude
    Barbara

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  4. courtneytae says:

    Beautiful Mom, just beautiful and eloquently expressed. I love having a window into your heart this way, sorry it took me so long to get here! I also love to read your friends’ responses, see how your community all over the country is with you in heart and spirit, I’m so grateful you have all of them… funny how we keep everyone inside of us, to draw upon internally when we are without company; it’s how I feel dad, always there inside for me to visit when I become present to our relationship – perhaps that’s a big part of being with oneself away from others, to feel the fullness of infinite relationships all around us that are always continuing and growing, never really stagnant? For me it becomes fascinating then, not dull, boring, or lonely, but full, joyful and peaceful to feel lifted in myself by the gifts of others. Thank you for the gift of your writing. Love, Courtney.

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    • Thanks, Babe. I so appreciate you taking the time to read this. I am drawing on my internal company quite a lot recently! Especially with all this rain and thunderstorms! Grateful to have the space and time to reflect on what it is to be human and how loved I am and how I love so many. Love you, Courtney!

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