The blue sky was majestic, with sunrays shooting in different directions. Clouds noticeably glided across the sky. We weren’t in Spain, but someone was playing a Spanish style song on his guitar. The music flowed from the courtyard, where in the middle stood the grand archaic chapel. It was my first time in Bath, England – my first time abroad. I was overwhelmed with so much happiness from being surrounded by exquisite architecture. It wasn’t raining either, making this moment seem even more precious and rare.
I remember being in that courtyard, looking up at the apex of the chapel, and feeling a pang, a tug deep within me. I was euphoric, but something was missing. It was a weird cluster of emotions that swelled inside of me. Most of them were positive – I felt electrified, grateful, and in wonder and awe. And yet this pang coexisted with all of this happiness. I felt like something major was missing – my loved ones – and believed that had my parents and brother stood there with me, the experience would have been better than me looking at everything alone. Not that having loved ones with me makes the chapel actually appear more beautiful, or the clouds fluffier, or the sun rays brighter. That moment, I guess, made me realize that I want to share delightful experiences with my loved ones. It’s a quite simple desire yet sometimes it can become a complicated thing to actually execute. I want to show my parents and my brother gorgeous sights and gasp and point and marvel with them. I also understand though that the things you find euphoric may not be the same for your loved ones. So I wouldn’t want to force my loved ones to experience something that only I find wonderful. And yet, there’s a kind of happiness that that other person might feel. For example, maybe my brother wouldn’t have found all the sights in that Bath courtyard as beautiful as I did, but perhaps he still would’ve been happy to see me joyous, to simply be there to experience my happiness.
I’m not saying that I want to drag my loved ones to see things that I find beautiful in the hopes that they also find them beautiful. And it’s not about doing things with a loved one just so that I don’t have to be alone. There is a silent power and a joy that’s ignited when you go out and acquire what you want. The power speaks to the independence. The joy is about self-fulfillment, that you can provide for yourself what you want. For me, this joy goes hand in hand with independence – that I can go do something that I want to do alone and that I am able to do so without having to depend on someone for company and consider whether they want to also do it and whether they’ll enjoy it or dislike it. It’s not about escaping from considerateness or about selfishness, the focus on my gratification from experiencing whatever I find inspiring, joyous, or exciting.
I admit that sometimes I worry about superficial things, like whether others will perceive me as a loner if I am wandering through a museum alone or attending a concert by myself. I am not too familiar with the practice of focusing on my own personal experience – to paying attention to my relationship to whatever I’m doing by myself and importantly, saying that that’s enough. I want to practice doing more of this because there isn’t much focus on seeking adventures alone, and it may be as simple as going to go to the movies without company. There’s a glorification of doing everything with someone else, especially with a significant other, and yes, doing that is delightful, but so is doing things alone.