I never played hooky from school. If your mother taught at your tiny schooll, you probably wouldn’t either.
But there were days I wuld have enjoyed it. Not because the bright spring sun was calling me; not because my gang was headed to town in somebody’s sports car – no, not for me. If I had skipped school, it would have been for one equally important reason:
I don’t want you to get the impression that I am wholly antisocial, because I am not. Those of you who know me personally have probably sen how much I enjoy good conversation with friends and acquaintances.
You also, however, have probably seen me spend other moments standing off to the side, away from the circles of talkers and out of the center of activity. It’s just the way I am. I get social, I get shy and eventually I get out of town.
Moments of quiet solitude – at least in small doses – seem to be, at least since I was a teenager, important moments to me. It’s not that I don’t like people: I just like to be alone to think and process my life’s details, obligations and plans.
The soundtrack of my life co-mingles the voices of my wife and children, the television set, the microwave oven, the office phone ringing, the sounds of school and thousands of other auditory treasures – and I love it all. But when I get the chance to claim an hour or two of quiet, I sometimes have to take such an opportunity.
Some of that time, I want to work on the task at hand. Sometimes I want to “space off,” to let my mind wander through its own hallways in pursuit of the next idea or plan. When I would occasionally disappear into my thoughts, and that hazy look from my eyes became obvious to others, my high school friends would sometimes say I was in ‘Pearly-world.’ It was a fitting label for my private brain space, so I have kept the term in my memory for many years since.
I am accused routinely of wearing unusual expressions upon my face while I am involved in a task, or while considering an idea or problem. My wife will ask, ‘Matt, is something wrong? You look like you’re in pain.’
No, honey. I’m just deep in thought <Sigh>.
Getting back to the notion of craving alone time, it was a particularly potent feeling in my teenaged youth. When people are around and talking, they end up asking you questions, or telling you what you need to be doing, or nagging, or bragging or annoying you with their fresh takes on life.
Sometimes quiet is just better. But there’s a price to pay for silence, as I learned early on. The price of solitude is often that of loneliness. It’s the feeling that eventually overpowers my love of seclusion. Just like noise becomes too loud, silence becomes too quiet; I start to miss those little voices that have enriched my life, or the ongoing melodies coming from the radio, or even the requests by others for my help or counsel.
The temptation remains for me some days to blow off my responsibilities, get in my car, go somewhere away from people, and just bask in a silent bid to regain my own sanity. But the car knows the way back home, back to work, back to life. A quiet without the sounds of my life in it is a silence that would torture me.
But for brief moments here and there, I can handle being alone. I embrace the quiet. It’s the emotional equivalent of my hitting the reset button, and a few moments of solitude now get me ready for the chaos later. That’s a fair trade, don’t you think?
Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers in King City, Albany and Grant City.