What’s the longest period of minutes, hours or days you’ve ever gone without seeing another human? How did it affect you? Was it a good experience or an unpleasant one? The reason I ask is that I might just set a new personal record this weekend.
I started to ask about “seeing or hearing” but it’s almost impossible these days to be out of range of voice communication–be that for good or ill. And I’ll use the phone over the next 96 hours–more than normal, likely–to stay in touch with family and friends while I’m snowed in, expecting Ann home sometime Monday. Or Tuesday. But I’m not likely to see anyone driving down our road until the lone VDOT snowplow driver comes through maybe on Sunday, as likely in the dark of night as in the daytime.
We are social animals and tend to find and be with each other, some of us more needful of being in groups and crowds than others; and there are so many of us now that alone-ness is not easily come by, even if it is necessary at certain moments and periods of one’s life.
I once sought solitude by occasionally taking overnight backpack trips alone–maybe once or twice, I’d be gone two nights and three days while walking the trails. But even then, I was never more than a few hours between passing campers or day-hikers. For that reason, I’d often leave the path for those places no other person of sound mind would want to go.
I want to think more about the benefits of silence, solitude and freedom from faces. An opportunity to do just that is falling flake by flake and foot by foot just beyond my window glass, a beautiful, terrible emptiness in which to immerse myself, as I have no other or better thing to do.