Happy Loneliness

By Monday, July 19, 2010 0 , , , , Permalink 0

What women do when they are with themselves
by Ivan Martin, executive editor of EPOCA (Brazil)

Yesterday I took a scolding from my cousin. As a regular reader of this column, she complained, gently, that I sometimes write about “feminine solitude” to some misunderstanding.

When you read what I write, she said, people may have the impression that single women are all desperate – and not so. Many women are alone and are well. Choose to stay so, even though alternatives. They go out with a guy here and another there, but find that none of them fit into their lives. Under these circumstances, they decide to continue alone.

My cousin knows what she is talking about. She was married a long time, has two lovely daughters, is a very beautiful woman, hardworking, independent – and live alone.

Yesterday, while we drank a glass of wine and ate a bad tortilla in downtown Sao Paulo, she reminded me of one important thing about women: they have the pleasure of being with themselves.

“I like to take care of my hair, putting on my creams, sitting on the couch with the dog by my feet and enjoying my home,” said my cousin. “We do not need anyone else to feel happy these times.”

Some years ago, I was madly in love with a girl and, to my dismay, she said and did things similar to that account of my cousin. She liked to lay in the bath, lighting candles, listening to music or reading. Alone. And I was jealous of that happiness without me, thinking it was a symptom of lack of love.

Today, looking back, I had no lack of love there. I was desperate, insecure, needy. Had I left the woman alone with the silence and bath salts, and perhaps everything had gone better than it was.

Today, while chatting with my cousin, I came back very clear perception that always seemed startlingly obvious: the rich inner life of women compared to the inner life of men, that is much poorer.

The capacity to be alone and to distract herself reveals some density inside, shows that women (more than men) cultivate a pool of calm and a capacity of internal dialogue that many men simply do not know.

Most men seem permanently turned off. Turns out his inner conflicts in the world, changing what is around. Transforms the world to entertain, not to have to look inside, where it hurts.

Perhaps for this reason the male culture is gregarious, worldly, noisy. Progressive, too, of course. How many vuvuzelas are necessary to dampen the blow inner silence? How many cathedrals to fill my emptiness? How many wars and how many deaths incomprehensible to satiate the hatred that consumes me?

The feminine culture is not so. Or was not, because the world, from that standpoint, is becoming more masculine. Everyone is making noise. Everyone is sublimating the pain in intimate fanfare outside. Men and women are looking outside, trying earnestly practicing negligence by inner life – with support from advertising.

If everyone would stay home with their feelings, who will buy all the trinkets, potions and the services that people are selling around 24 hours a day, seven days a week? You must be superficial and happy. Spending – if not the economy does not progress.

In conclusion, I do not think the differences between men and women are innate. We were not born that way. I do not believe that is in our genes. We are taught to be ourselves.

Men go out into the world and transform, while the women chew your feelings, good and bad, and go ahead in the routine of home. It has been so for generations and only now beginning to change. What will come of the transformation is difficult to say.

But until that changes, it is perhaps important not to underestimate the female culture. Do not imagine, for instance, that behind all loneliness there is despair. Or that behind every silence is no sadness or melancholy. There may be choice.

As my cousin, stay at home without company can be a good program – as long as people like themselves and are capable of understanding their own thoughts. It is not always easy.

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