An Encouraging Word — Living alone

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

It is not good for the man to be alone. Genesis 2:18

One of my favorite commercials is the one from the GEICO Insurance Company in which a frantic frontier woman runs after a cowboy yelling, “Jesse, don’t go!” The cowboy yells back, “I’m sorry, Daisy, but I’m a loner, and a loner’s got to be alone.” He rides off on his horse, as she wails, but then suddenly Jesse is knocked off his horse after smacking his head against the letter “E” on the sign, THE END, as it crosses the screen.

“I’m a loner and a loner has to be alone!” I always thought that could be my motto — until I got the flu. There’s nothing like the flu to reveal a single person to himself.

As I was walking across the frozen, snow-stacked, Kroger parking lot to get some canned soup and Gatorade, I thought to myself, “Ronald, maybe you have trumpeted the glories of the single life just a little too much lately. How many other people have to get out of their sick beds, delirious with the flu, and go for food in the snow, hoping not to throw up on the way?”

I would like to offer an encouraging word to those readers who live alone — both to those who hate it and those of us who love it. We are not as odd as we think. One in every four American households is occupied by someone living alone. In places like Manhattan, it is one in two.

Single occupant homes can be a breeding ground for eccentricities. When you live alone, you do weird things, such as cleaning your house before the housekeeper arrives, talking to yourself out loud, thinking too much about everything, eating just about anything at any time of day or night, lying to friends about not having a guest room, taking everything out of the closets over several weeks and then taking another several weeks to put them back, sticking reminder notes everywhere and checking the door locks multiple times nightly.

The best thing about living alone is that you don’t have to negotiate, get permission or seek forgiveness for what, when, where or how you eat; what you wear, when, where or how you wear it; when you go to bed, when you get up or whether you do either; how high or low you set the thermostat, whether you leave the seat up or down, whether you leave the lights on or off; what color you paint the walls; or what shape sofa you buy.

As much as I love the freedom that living alone offers, there are downsides. I could never share a rectory or even a room with anybody on a vacation anymore. I could fall down the steps and lie there dead for days, in my precious freedom, until the smell alerts the neighbors. Worst of all, I may end up having to carry my own casket at my funeral.

Living alone? Learn to enjoy the one you’re with!

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