When I was growing up, my three older sisters and parents weren’t particularly interested in me or in how or where I spent my time, so I’d wander off -- on foot or on my bike -- to the library, the field behind our house, or the cemetery across the street. Sometimes I would give chalkboard talks to an imaginary class in our basement. It was a childhood of solitude, tinged with sadness, though I didn’t know the word for what I was feeling at the time.
Not long ago, at a retreat center in the Poconos, I walked a labyrinth. I entered the circle berating myself for having spoken ”too much” (my personal judgment) during the morning’s discussion. Several loops into the labyrinth, I caught a glimpse of the child I once was, curious and talkative, qualities my mother disliked and discouraged. It helped me to feel compassion for the girl who felt she had to be apart from others in order to be herself.
I don't like being isolated, but I do have an abiding fondness for solitude. I also need and enjoy companionship.
Sometimes I manage to get the balance right.