What if you could never be alone?
Not in your bedroom. Not in the bathroom.
Not even when you masturbate.
Every waking/sleeping moment of your life, someone is right beside you, in front of you, behind you.
And not someone of your choosing. Someone else. Someone you may or may not be related to, may or may not like. They could be male, female, or more than likely, a few dozen of each.
Your constant companions watch your every action, hear every sound you expel, fall asleep within yards of you each night.
You veer right, weave left. They’re still there.
You hide behind something. They come looking for you. With others.
Every endeavor you make to carve out a moment of privacy is met with deep suspicion about your motives. Your entourage will not tolerate the breaking away from the collective. In fact, they whisper (in front of you, of course, because there is no private space) that you must be mad. Your attempts at privacy are evidence of your unstable mind.
In order to save you, they hem you in more tightly.
Eventually, you do lose your mind.
Those of you with toddlers may live this nightmare daily. My prayers are with you. But most likely the rest of us cannot fathom living this way. We are all about privacy.
Our favorite expressions are, “Mind your own business,” “Leave me alone,” and “Close the door on your way out.” However, in the medieval world, your business is everyone’s business, they would never dream of leaving anyone alone, and the door to privacy is made of glass. But is this really so different from our ‘modern’ world?
Check out these enlightening quotes about privacy in the medieval age from ‘A History of Private Life II: Revelations of the Medieval World’ by Philippe Ariès and George Duby – an absorbing book I just cannot put down:
“In feudal residences, there was no room for individual solitude, except perhaps in the moment of death.”
Ah, sweet release. Our unshakable entourage can’t follow us into the afterlife.☺ Gives new meaning to “I’m dying for some privacy!”
“…any individual who attempted to remove himself…to be alone…immediately became an object of either suspicion or admiration, regarded as either a rebel or a hero and in either case considered ‘foreign’…”
Wait. That’s not medieval. That’s us. Think about it.
How do we feel about loners? About people who choose privacy? About people who don’t feel the need to narcisize along with the rest of us? People who don’t have a Facebook page? Don’t Twitter? Don’t like having their picture taken because they don’t want their face popping up in random searches around the globe? People who would rather stay home with a book than meet us for drinks? “No one would run such a risk who was not deviant or possessed or mad; it was commonly believed that solitary wandering was a symptom of insanity.”
Yep. That’s what we think.
Right here. Right now. In the good old 21st century.
I travel alone – not because I fart publicly or have leprosy. Traveling alone is a choice for me; I love delving into the far reaches of developing countries, and I prefer doing it alone rather than babysitting the culture shock meltdowns typical of First World travel chums venturing beyond the Western world tourist circuit.
But everywhere I land the first question I hear is, “Who are you with?” My answer is inevitably met with…well, our primate friend above illustrates it with human perfection.
“Men and women who traveled the roads without escort were believed to offer themselves up as prey, so it was legitimate to take everything they had.”
So, my whole traveling alone thing…if I did it back then, I’d be robbed and raped and it would be my own fault?
Hang on…that’s not so medieval either. I hear this warning from my mother before every trip.
In medieval times, there was a belief that the world outside their villages “…consisted of uncultivated stretches…: marshes, forests, and other dangerous and seductive places that stood outside the law, places of strange encounters where anyone who set foot alone risked finding himself face to face with savages or elves.”
So, if I try to grab a private moment, I risk dangerous and seductive encounters with savage elves.
Medieval people believed that only criminals or crazy people desired to endeavor for privacy. Lovers who sought to be alone were considered “deranged by passion, driven out of their minds.”
Okaaaay…but….where did they do the nasty??
And speaking of roaches…
In a future Medieval Monday, I explore creepy crawlers…mwaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!
Stop your grinnin’ & burn your linen. It was a nasty past-y!
How glom-y is your life?
How important is private time to you?