Blue Moon / You saw me standing alone / Without a song in my heart / Without a love of my own — Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, 1934
All these romantic songs assume it’s terrible to be alone. That we can’t dream alone and that we must be unhappy and lonely if we live alone.
Well, they’re misleading us down the wrong garden path. The one strewn with rose petals where only romantically linked couples are welcome. Or the one lined with party hats and noisemakers for large groups and families.
For some of us, the shared path does not last, or lead anywhere, or suit our nature, or our lifestyle at a particular point in time. More and more people around the world are choosing to live alone, according to sociologist Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. In 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single. Today, more than 50 percent are. People who live alone in the United States (31 million) make up 28 percent of all American households, making them more common than any other domestic unit, including the nuclear family.
It’s hard to believe that all 31 million Americans who live alone are looking up at the moon and feeling empty. According to Klinenberg, those who live alone are more likely than couples to have active social lives, taking the initiative to reach out and get together regularly with friends.
From my own experience, I know it’s possible to be happy alone. In the past, I’ve felt lonelier in the wrong relationships or surrounded by people not on my wavelength. But I believed all the romantic songs that the path alone was too dark and I felt sorry for those who went down it. To end up there would be awful, I feared.
But, guess what? Here I am and it’s not dark at all. It is fun and full of adventure. I’m not saying it’s better than being with someone, but it’s just as good, just as worthwhile a path to take. I wish I’d been able to realize this earlier. I could be a famous novelist or Pulitzer-prize winning journalist by now, instead of spending time caring for unhappy men or trying to make ill-fated relationships work. Just kidding, of course. But I certainly could have saved myself hours of wishing I were on another path, under another moon. Maybe someday I will be, maybe not. Either way, I’ll be okay.
A few months ago I was looking up at the Blue Moon. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, had just died and we were encouraged to wink at the moon and remember him on his memorial day.
So by the light of his Blue Moon, with a song in my heart, I go for a walk, I take a photograph, I write, and I am in good company.