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“want to be alone?” I am sitting by myself at an empty table in the
quiet JTS cafeteria, early morning pre class, cup of tea, eyes closed.
I open them – R. one of my classmates smiles, indicating an empty seat
across from me. ‘actually , yes, I do – do you mind? I need some quiet
time’ – I surprise myself and maybe R., with the honesty. “no
problem”. He sits elsewhere, I close my eyes for another two minutes
and smile thinking about my newest resolution – more intentional alone
time.

 

Alone is not the same as lonely, but they are linked. I think that we
are so afraid of loneliness we hardly remember how to approach the art
of being alone.
Part of this PREPENT process for me is figuring out what I need to
improve in my life, what’s gotta go, and if so – how. Day 13 is midway
on the quality of relationships in my life. And with all the balls of
obligation juggling in the air – family, home, school, work, friends –
and so little time to ‘myself’ – I want to focus on a healthy way of
cultivating my aloneness. I know that it is in these precious moments,
even a few, that I find my recharge and nourishment. Quality alone
time. Not easy in a wireless reality. But I have to try. I know I need
it. Even if it can sets up as an occasional sociopath.
On the subway this morning on the way to school I try: don’t take out
the assigned reading, don’t check emails or work on to do lists or
journal and take the time to just sit and watch and ‘space out’ (space
in?) I cheat half way through the R train uptown and check my inbox.
Then I repent, close my eyes for a bit, breath. When I get to school I
take those few more minutes in the cafeteria, and when I walk to class
I think – is this is the core of the experience called prayer?
Regardless of God/Faith – is the root of focus the finding/making of
alone time? 

And then, surprise: The first class of the day,  Bible in Context, is
about the original alone-time.  Genesis 2, one of the Biblical
creation stories, sets Adam, a male,  alone in the Garden of Eden,
apparently miserable. The Creator notices that something is wrong and,
for the first time in history, identifies something in creation as
‘not-good’. ‘It’s not good that man is alone,’ says God, and tries to
pair Adam with various animals. No go. Then comes the first woman.
Success. Aloneness, or perhaps loneliness – the Hebrew word Levado
could mean either, is prevented perhaps, but it remains at the core of
this primal story -and at the core of our human experience.
Loneliness will come and go, more or less, for all of us. But can we
work on the art of being alone to deal with it – and other life
lessons – better?
How do I do this? How much alone time a week, a day is good to combat
the ‘not good’? how much is enough?
One good tip comes from the popular ‘Artist’s Way’ manual for creative
living where Julia Cameron suggests the weekly ‘artist date’ – going
alone on some inspiring solo time for the soul.
It’s been a while.. (Does gym count??)
Want/need to be alone?

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PrePent

Rabbi Amichai & Lab/Shul’s annual Elul journey into the new Jewish year with 40 daily communally co-created inspirations to help us begin the year with more focus and presence.

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