“Even if family, friends, and movies should fail, there is still the radio or television to fill up the void. Women, who used to complain of loneliness, need never be alone any more. We can do our housework with soap-opera heroes at our side. Even daydreaming was more creative than this; it demanded something of oneself and it fed the inner life. Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke out the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone.
“It is a difficult lesson to learn today – to leave one’s friends and family and deliberately practice the art of solitude for an hour or a day or a week. ” Gifts from the Sea, pp. 41-42
Now, even more than when she wrote those words 50 years ago, we have that same chatter. I find myself seldom eating, if I’m alone, without a book or catalog or magazine in hand; I constantly check for messages in all the multitude of ways one can receive them these days, and I almost always choose being with people over being alone. Yet even with such a strong preference against it, I need that time alone, I need the quiet.
“Every paid worker, no matter where in the economic scale, expects a day off a week and a vacation a year. By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class. They rarely even complain of their lack, apparently not considering occasional time to themselves as a justifiable need.” pp. 48-49
Again, you who are wives and mothers may find yourselves in these words more than others, but the tensions are not limited to one population, are they?