Those Who Are Alone Are Not Always Lonely.
I'M OLD ENOUGH now to realize how short our time on Earth is. Looking back, the memories that mean the most to me are divided into two disparate categories connected by the commonality of nature. Because of my affinity for the bow and for hunting, these favorite times often surround bowhunting and archery: The experiences most significant to me are those spent with good friends and family in the outdoors, and also, paradoxically, those moments spent in complete solitude in nature.
When fully content with the people I'm with, I realize just how unlikely and rare it is to be with this unique group. I contemplate how these meaningful encounters have been sprinkled throughout my life. I mourn those potential experiences missed as a result of my decisions and ambitions. I feel sorry for those who haven't embraced nature. It gives so much, and it demands so little in return.
During these intimate times with good friends and family, I feel our lives are meshed together in one great continuum of time and space and love. These tendrils of connectivity are interwoven and never broken. They are timeless. These life experiences braid us together and keep us close, even as we wander, until the tapestry of our life is complete.
I sometimes fret about what I've missed; the places I might have seen, the people I might have known. But one cannot be everywhere and do everything. Our time is finite. Choices grow more pressing, more compelling, more relevant, and more urgent as life nears its end. I find myself choosing to be with close friends and family, people whom I truly enjoy, rather than people who might bring me gain. I find myself less anxious to impress, and more eager to help.
As odd as it may seem, as I age, I enjoy my solitary time more than ever. This may seem contradictory, but not to me. I just want to spend time with quality people. And though few others may agree, I think I'm pretty good company. Freedom to have complete ownership of my mind --to truly have it to myself, with no interference or interruption, is rare. Being alone, but still encapsulated within our civilization's net, is not being alone. Electronics are ever-present. When tethered to a device, you have a wire leash around your neck, jerking you back to civilization at anyone's whim.
When alone in the wilderness, you are truly alone. You have the whole of nature surrounding and embracing you. You are free to think, to explore, to wonder, and to wander.
It isn't that I don't like people. Occasionally, I just need to be solo. For one who needs wild places, to be alone is not to be lonely. That is the difference. Some must have people around them, at all times, to be fulfilled. Others are content by themselves. In nature, when solitary, one can place one's entire life in a container, seal it closed, and walk away. It will be there when you return to open it again.
The longer 1 spend within the confines of civilization, the more interwoven and tighter the ties that bind me to it become --and the more complex my life grows. I feel tugs from nature. Gentle at first, they become more demanding and urgent with time. Unattended, these urges become obsessions. Like hunger, they must be fed. I must be nourished
It is difficult to truly be alone with all the modern methods of communication. I implore you to try. Give your apologies to those you love, but only communicate for safety and assurance. You must be truly alone. It will be difficult at first. Feel the pain, feel the homesickness. Embrace it. Endure what must be endured. The change within may surprise you.
Our lives are like a river, always moving toward us, always here, and always moving away. We are consumed with our tasks. We are constantly swimming, treading water so as not to drown nor be washed downstream. To be alone is to step onto the shore, examine and understand the flow, the whole of it, the view from above, a perspective that is impossible when immersed and frenetic.
Caption: As strange as it may sound, as I grow older, enjoy my solitary time more than ever.