Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alone Again. Quite Naturally.

It's a perpetuated fallacy that Greta Garbo said, "I want to be alone." Several of the characters she played did make such utterances. For example, as the ballerina Grusinskaya in Grand Hotel, she did, in fact, say, "I want to be alone... I think I have never been so tired in my life." Also, in The Single Standard, her character, Arden Stuart said, "I am walking alone because I want to be alone." Alone was definitely a Garbo theme. In real life, however, during an interview (when asked if she enjoyed her vacation), Garbo said, "You cannot have a vacation without peace and you cannot have peace unless left alone." In a later interview she said, "I have always been moody. When I was just a little child, as early as I can remember, I have wanted to be alone. I detest crowds, don’t like many people. I used to crawl into a corner and sit and think, think things over." At a later date, she recanted somewhat, saying, "I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be let alone.' There is all the difference."

Yes, there is all the difference, and I can relate to Greta... may I call you Greta? No?... I can relate to Ms. Garbo. As a child, I, too, was the kid in the corner - by choice. Even then, life seemed to move at a ridiculous speed with its constant whirl of input, swirls of color, and drop-of-a-hat changes that left me unwilling to participate. Alone though... I could control alone. Alone was where I functioned best. Alone was where I wanted to be left. I didn't want to be alone, it just worked best that way. I learned to be alone and rarely lonely.

I was thinking about all of this and, thanks to my friend Sharon, thinking about what it took for me to really break out of my shell. What it came down to? Death. It took death. It took John disappearing forever for me to rally against Alone. I didn't want the people I cared about to disappear without knowing my heart. I didn't want to disappear without them knowing my heart. It was time to speak up. Time to be honest. Time to be less alone. I've gotten much better at less alone, but I still prefer alone.

I was trying to understand why alone still works best for me when I got a package from my friend Jessica. We're collaborating on a couple of art books. In her preface for the book she wrote, "Ninety nine percent of my art making is done alone, at home in my studio. I work well this way..." My immediate thought was, "Ah, Jess... it's no wonder we're friends!" We get each other. I felt validated, in a way. Someone else who understands that Alone isn't necessarily a bad thing. Even so, we're collaborating, right? So, somewhere in that Alone, we've both discovered that reaching out, at least on occasion, is a necessity. Often, it is even a pleasure. Jess went on to write, "...but collaboration with other artists can breathe new life into one's work and give fresh perspective. Plus, it's just plain FUN!"

I'm always up for a good breeze and some fun. So, I'll go work on my portion of this little book (Jess did a fantastic job on her portion, by the way!)... I'll go work on the little book... in my studio... alone... but with a friend who really isn't so far away considering all the miles between us.

1 comment:

  1. i've always loved spending time alone. As a child, i spent hours alone in my room playing, or outside discovering. Paul and i are both loners, and when we first got together we agreed to always respect each others' need for that time alone.
    i will say that although i love to make art alone, sometimes i get this excitement building up and i really wish there was another artist there to share in it with me. When we move, i'm thinking that, if i have the space, i may do an art workshop/retreat kind of thing where people can not only learn a new technique or work on a project together, but also share some good food (my own cooking) and conversation. i've also been trying to get together with friends for craft nights, but lately those have been hard to fit in w/the move forthcoming.


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