Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"The Merry Recluse" by Caroline Knapp: A Singletude Response

A few days ago, I came across this excerpt from Caroline Knapp's book, The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays, and I wanted to share it with you. Though I haven't yet read the book, you'll find a link to the titular essay in the title of this post.

Singles can generally be divided into two camps, single by choice and single by circumstance. Knapp is most definitely a member of the former. Or perhaps it's more complicated than that.

Maybe there's a bridge category, one which straddles the conscious choice to forge a life on one's own and the land of disorientation and despair that many people dwell in when single against their wishes. The river between is where people like me reside, floating on the tranquil, sparkling surface of contentment even as currents of doubt and regret swirl deep beneath, bubbling up only on dark days when the storms of life threaten to disturb the equilibrium. I liked Knapp's essay so much because reading it was like peering over the edge of my raft into the river and seeing her face reflected back at me; I knew she and I were fording that river together.

Knapp understands that our thoughts on singlehood are like running water--deep, fluid, ever-changing--and much harder for most people to grasp than the solid land they know best. An uncomprehending world expects us to join one of the camps on opposite sides of the river. "People don't live in the water," they effectively say. "Either you're a radical feminista womyn with no use for anything as prosaic as love, or you've already bought a wedding dress a la Muriel and foam a little at the mouth every time an eligible bachelor walks by." (With some imagination, you can turn this statement inside out to apply to a single male as well.)

It doesn't occur to them that we who live on the river might, at times, be lonely, that we may gaze at the Isle of Couples with curiosity or frank longing to explore there, but that we would rather pass that island by than be shipwrecked there with someone we don't love. They don't understand that we are peaceful and even joyful singles, happy in our eccentricities, thankful for the uninterrupted time to devote to our own projects, the freedom to make our own decisions, and the opportunity to pursue our own whims, and that we must weigh these advantages in the balance before we consider sacrificing them to someone else. They aren't aware that, nevertheless, we always keep an empty seat in the boat just in case we should encounter that one person who would make it worthwhile.

Knapp knows all these things, so if you recognize yourself as a river rafter--or are just curious about what it's like to be one--give her a read.

Are you a river rafter? If so, do you feel misunderstood by the rest of the world? What's your response to Knapp's article?

Fun Link of the Day

1 comment:

bobbyboy said...

"Are you a river rafter? If so, do you feel misunderstood by the rest of the world? What's your response to Knapp's article?"

Actually, I never thought about it quite this way. I have always believed, as with many topics, that there is a variety of singles that can go from one end of the color spectrum to the other.

I don't feel misunderstood as a single, but then again, I don't deal with the single world as say someone who is in the dating scene. I don't get questioned about it and oddly enough the only time I deal with this issue is when I am asked advice or deal with online blogs.

I am glad however that Caroline Knapp has brought a different perspective to things other than the usual black and white.