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.
2 thoughts on “Blue Moon, My Funny Valentine”
Again, nicely written, Linda! I agree , of course, but truly like the way you express it. Some years back I was singing with a Unitarian choir in San Francisco. A ‘new’ minister gave his sermon and one of our choir members was very angry. He had stated how important it was for TWO people to wander and see sunsets, enjoy the theatre, etc. She stood up after the sermon to ask to address the congregation and him. (we were seated in a loft, way above and in back of the congregation.) She spoke SO well and forcefully….telling him she was insulted by his lack of awareness of the many, many people who did not have ‘another’ with them, to enjoy the many pleasures of our world. She added how shallow she felt he was, and how harmful to the single people in his congregation. And was he so dense and devoid of feelings that he couldn’t imagine a single person enjoying all of this alone?? I loved it! Janet, the speaker, is a pistol and a fine Psychologist. She brought lovely applause from the congregation and our choir! I LOVED your Blue Moon post! Keep it up! xxoo Jo
Well done, Linda. Your lyrical essay makes sense – and more so than decades of neuroticTop 40 hits and “standards” we’ve all listened to. The statistics show the difference between reality and media fantasy, don’t they?