how to be alone

Three Things

Confidence; as a teenager? Because I knew what I loved. I loved to read; I loved to listen to music; and I love cats. Those three things. So, even though I was an only kid, I could be happy because I knew what I loved. Those three things haven’t changed from my childhood. I know what I love, still, now. That’s a confidence. If you don’t know what you love, you are lost.

I think about this Haruki Murakami quote a lot, I make conversation with it. I ask people what their three things are. Knowing three things is a lot to know; it took me like a quarter of a century to settle on my three. For the record, I love reading, writing, and running, though since I moved to Colorado and bought a bike, the last one has changed to being outside at large, which has less rhythmic prowess.

While this is a great and valuable pull quote, I think it’s misleading. Because knowing three things isn’t a panacea. Life can still be a bummer even with three activities or nouns that you enjoy. In a small, not super personal example, this last weekend, I was lonely. I went like 30 hours alone, which would have been fine if that had been the mood I was in, but it wasn’t. I wanted to be social and eat poached eggs or even talk into someone’s ear with a drink in hand. In short, I wanted to do more than reread the good parts of Freedom, bike in spandex, and write for 60 minutes without internet access.

Now it’s Thursday, and I’ve since been social, and that specific loneliness has passed. I can’t speak to what having three things has given Murakami beyond confidence. But for me, knowing what I like means even during bleak times, I’m doing something productive with myself. Maybe that’s a hyper American way to tackle being bummed. But I am an American, and I’m glad I spend my lonely times doing things I love.