Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Home Alone 2


A couple of people expressed an opinion that I found interesting: two weeks, they claim, is a good length of time for being on my own without my wife and child. It is enough to get a taste of "freedom", but not enough to develop habits that would make resuming normal family life hard. I don't know how right this observation is, but it is interesting in the sense of it making me ponder what I got out of being on my own for two weeks.
Therefore, this post will attempt to answer the question of what I learned out of being on my own while my wife and son were overseas. Because, hey, it's a unique experience that had me go back to an ancient period of not only being pre-parenthood but also pre-marriage/girlfriend. And then come back to normal life again.

Before answering, let me highlight what I did and didn’t do while on my own:
  1. Defying what seemed to be everybody’s expectations, I did not live on a diet of pizza deliveries.  In fact, I did not order pizza even once.
  2. I sorted out the paperwork for this year’s tax returns. It’s amazing how much time this takes.
  3. The washing machine was doing extra rounds.
  4. I did cleaning and sorting, both inside and outside.
  5. I listened to music a lot. Through the hi fi, while sleeping, the works.
  6. In particular I explored musical venues I don’t normally explore. In particular, I listened to a lot of Israeli music.
  7. I played Mass Effect on the PlaySation, but I have to say I played much less than I anticipated I would.
  8. I slept a lot during weekends, interchanging night for day.
  9. I went to the movies.
  10. I did some minor explorations to investigate what Melbourne has to offer when it comes to my favourite foods. Conclusion: while prospects are much better at the Israeli areas, there is still no good humus to be had in Melbourne.
  11. I went to public sessions on free software and copyright/piracy.
  12. More than anything else, I watched tons of stuff through my Mac + Apple TV. I would say the Apple TV was the most overworked gadget in the household.

How did it feel like, doing these things that I was doing?
  1. It felt strange.
  2. I constantly missed my wife & son.
  3. I got a glimpse of what life used to be like before we had our son. In other words, the feeling of arriving home from work and having so much time to do whatever it is I want to do – wow! There is so much time in this world when one doesn’t have to run like a headless chicken around a child. What did we use to do with all this time we had back then? We must have been so wasteful.
  4. Regardless of having what seemed to be all the time in the world, I constantly felt like I was missing something. As in, what should I be doing next to avoid wasting this opportunity to do whatever it is I want to do?
  5. In particular, being the person that I am, I found myself carefully analysing which activity will be most beneficial in the sense of being something I wouldn't do in the company of my wife & son. I'm talking about things I can't normally do (e.g., sleep) or things I won't do with the rest of the family (e.g., watch horror stuff, search for good humus, or listen to Israeli music excessively). In other words, I found the calculation of what to do next turn into an exercise in optimisation.

Having gone through this background, allow me to specify my learnings:
  1. Looking back at the times I used to spend on my own in my [ancient] past, there is no such thing as being bored anymore. Courtesy of the Internet, gadgets and gaming consoles, the question is rather what I’d rather do now. Whereas in the past I had to rely on [cable] TV, in this day and age I am the master in charge of dictating exactly what I want to do next.
  2. After all these years, I still enjoy being on my own. It doesn’t feel as natural as it used to be, but I think I can confidently state I can cope with my own company better than the majority of people can. In fact, I will argue there is a lot to be learnt from being on one's own (and even from being bored on one's own): I will argue that before one can get along well with others one needs to be able to get along well with oneself. It is not as easy as it may sound.
  3. It is oh so very nice to be able to experience being on my own while knowing fully well this is a temporary condition. There is nothing like being on my own to appreciate the value of good company. I'm not talking only about my wife and child; the daily social interactions at work play a major part as well.
In other words, being on my own helped me appreciate all the things that I have but tend to take for granted. The technology that help pass the time constructively, and, much more importantly, the human companionship.

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