I like being alone. I like going to movies alone. I like eating in restaurants alone. I like taking long walks alone. I especially like fly fishing alone.

I have my reasons. Going alone to movies allows me to see films my wife would never abide, like Westerns, anything by Quentin Tarantino and James Bond flicks. Eating out alone gives me more time to read whatever book I’m into (and I can slip into Taco Bell without guilt). A solo walk provides me the solitary time I need to think and plan my day. And when it comes to fishing, I’m much like my father: If he even saw another person on the river it ruined his day.

I know humans are social animals, but here’s my secret: I’m hardwired for solitude. When I took the Myers-Briggs personality types test my results suggested that I should live by myself in a cave. A slight exaggeration, but my I (introversion) rating on the test was so high it almost flew off the chart. The short definition of an introvert is a person who gets his or her energy from being alone, as opposed to an extrovert who is energized by being in a group. It’s not that I don’t like people – I do – but it tires me out to be around them for long periods of time, especially in large groups. After an hour or two at a party or a big-peopled event like a wedding, I want to find a quiet place to escape and recharge my batteries. Any bathroom or closet will do.

Here’s the funny thing, though. As much as I enjoy doing many things by myself, when I see someone sitting all alone in a theater or restaurant, I feel sorry for them; I think they don’t have any friends or family members to share their time with. That’s absurd, of course; they could be happy loners just like me. I can’t be that big of a freak, right? But I’m never moved enough to go introduce myself and ask them if they’d like some company.

Therefore, I take exception to the lyrics of the song “People,” which claims: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Wouldn’t it be luckier to be less needy? At least some of the time? You’d have a lot more freedom to maneuver through this crowded world.

There is a cost to my intentionally solitary approach to life. Whenever I attend a funeral service, I’m always impressed by how many people have turned out to pay their respects and honor the life of a beloved friend or family member. I often count mourners in the hundreds, filling up the church or funeral parlor. Then I imagine my own funeral and the dozen or so people who might show up.

I guess if it doesn’t matter to me now, it surely won’t matter then. As the famous saying goes, “We enter the world alone, we leave the world alone.”


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