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Of Living Alone but Not Brooding Too Much About It

by Michael Benedikt


To live alone is to be immensely in charge of the silence

So that, if you have something to think about, you will probably think
     about that something, long and hard; & probably—since you’re
     usually able to—uninterruptedly, too,
Possibly for entire afternoons or evenings, or indeed for whole days
     on end!

Therefore, if you are living alone &—horrors!—are therefore mostly
      by yourself, with only yourself to keep yourself company (except,
      of course, for an occasional visitor!)
It’s especially important, I think, to accomplish things especially
       wisely & well, since—just in case you foul up on things—you’re
       the only one you’re probably going to be able to blame, for things
       that happen to go wrong . . .

Certainly, if you are living alone, it’s important to choose those
      friends & acquaintances, & lovers, too, whom you do see,
      especially wisely & well
—That is, for their benign & unannoying qualities,
Lest they endlessly crowd your mind, & cloud the horizon of your
       thoughtfulness, by giving you pointlessly troubling things to
       think about,
Such as problems they themselves may have refused to solve, or may
       have been unable to solve, in relation to their own lives,

—Possessing, as most people do, the scattering distractions of, say, a
     busily uproarious, merry family; or of highly sociable room-mates
     coming & going like cuckoos popping in & out of cuckoo-clocks;
Or, even, of multiple beeper-units which they have had installed upon
      their telephones, so as to prevent them—should they ever happen
      to be alone, & receive, for example, a thought-provoking phone-
      call—
From having to follow any single thought straight through to its
      natural end.

In-Dwelling Groups know almost nothing about Privacy!

—For there, there is always, inevitably, some erratically interruptive,
      intrusive bit of bullshit going down
Which, minimally, renders the possibility of Continuity Of Thought—
      much less consideration of the mental well-being of those people
      living alone, & who may, therefore, be highly disposed to
      treasuring Continuity Of Thought—
Highly unlikely!; & any serious perspective of sensitivity, vis-à-vis
      the situation of a person living alone—& thus with only himself
      or herself to blame for things that happen to go either right or
      wrong—
In general, almost impossible!

—But persons living alone should not think too much about all this
But rather substitute for many such defensive, negative thoughts as
       those,

The idea, above all, of choosing friends wisely & well
From among those people, for example, who have been responsible
      for themselves, & for themselves alone, for at least some few
      moments, & for at least some continuous time

Within recent memory.

Michael Benedikt’s fifth collection of poetry is The Badminton at Great Barrington (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press). His editorial selections as former poetry editor are represented in The Paris Review Anthology. (1992)


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