Wednesday, November 13, 2019

On becoming a recluse


I went out to dinner with a good friend tonight and enjoyed it thoroughly. We went to the Tavern, had chicken sliders, deviled eggs, and a bottle of wine. It was the first time I’ve poked my nose out of the cottage since last Saturday night. There are, of course, extenuating circumstances, like the extreme cold snap we’ve suffered through the last few days. In the low twenties in the mornings, never higher than the forties. The cottage is not as cozy as I’d wish, but it’s warm if I wear layers. Who wants to go out in that extreme cold?

Still, I’ve been pondering the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a recluse, because much as I enjoy people and being out in the world, I find it increasingly easy to stay home. I don’t have to dress, don’t have to put on a public face, am not obligated to do anything but I want. At home I can lounge in comfortable clothes and do what I want. I have work at my desk, plus reading, recipe reading (a great time suck), the internet—I can easily keep happily busy all day.

As a young child and even a teen, I was almost painfully shy, something I’ve pretty much overcome over the years of a professional career. I made myself be social and learned to enjoy it, so much so that I often say I feed on the company of other people. Still that shy girl emerges every once in a while, and maybe that keeps me home from some occasions. I never was one to go alone to art openings or lectures or receptions. The best receptions,  to me, were the ones my work dictated that I organize. Then I was at work and in charge. Turn me loose in a large crowd, and I tend to be los.

There’s the complication of my walker. Increasingly, I follow Jordan’s dictate and don’t go places by myself where I would have to get out of the car and get the walker out alone, then reverse the process to get back into the car. And, tonight, when Betty asked if I wanted to go to a church supper, I said yes, but it’s a pain to take me to a buffet because I can’t go through the line for myself. I am forever grateful for the mobility that my walker gives me, but I recognize that it is a handicap. I’m grateful for the friends who willingly put up with loading and unloading the walker, letting me out at restaurant doors, etc. But if no one wants to go to a church dinner, for instance, I will choose to stay home.

Finally, there’s the possibility that my lack of ambition to get up and go is simply a symptom of aging—maybe it’s true subconsciously that I simply don’t have the energy that I did fifteen or twenty years ago, but I’d like to reject that as a way of thinking. I truly believe we’re only as old as we think we are—and I sure don’t think of myself in my eighties.

So there are all the excuses for my increasing tendency toward reclusiveness, but that’s just what they are—excuses. And I’m going to reject them all, because I think the life of a recluse is neither happy nor healthy. And I do recognize that is not healthy. Doctors tell us we need the Vitamin D from being out in the sunshine daily, and I know that I don’t get that, even though I spend most of my day by a big window.

There is a caveat to all this, and maybe it’s part of what’s spoils me. I am blessed with family and friends who visit often enough to keep the cottage from being a lonely place of solitude. I have happy hour guests two or three nights a week, and Jordan usually comes out in the morning—I look for her to start my day—and a couple of times during the day. Jacob tells me these days he’s too busy, and Christian is indeed too busy—I often don’t see him during the week. But I know they’re close by.

Here’s my resolve: I’m going to get out and about more—but only if it warms up.
PS: As I often do, I did an internet search for free images to liven this post. When I typed in "recluse," I was rewarded with multiple images of spiders. There's a moral there someplace, but I'm too tired to pursue it.

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