On day 208 of the Nowhere To Be Project I dined alone as I so often do. In my mind, there are very few dinner companions as alluring as a good book. As I sat in bliss, eating and reading, the conversations of those around me seeped into my awareness. Some were bantering on about recent events in what sounded like a catch-up chat. Others whispered with gossip-filled glee. One elderly woman was happily spewing word after word and sentence after sentence, so much so that I wondered how she was managing to squeeze in bites of her meal. She just sounded so thrilled to be in the presence of others. A conversation like that would have completely exhausted me today. I guess that’s another benefit of retirement, I no longer have to speak for my dinner.

As a professor, I lectured for a living. I had to be wordy, funny, engaging, energetic and affable. If I failed, my students failed by zoning out and missing key content. I was paid to be an extrovert. Over time, this was incredibly draining because my natural inclination is toward introversion. I would come home after a day of lecturing for eight hours and stare at the television, not really watching it, but needing its drone to unwind my brain. After today’s solo meal I stumbled over the most wondrous blue pumpkins. They were sort of hidden and I’d no doubt have missed them if I’d been with another, embroiled in conversation. Not to be hyperbolic, but these pumpkins were the most beautiful shade of grey-blue-lavender that I’ve ever seen! Their seductive color not only reminded me of the beauty of silence, but reinforced the value of solitude. There’s just so much to see in the world, so many blue pumpkins, and I’d hate to miss a thing.