My search for Solitude

Solitude I

Solitude—noun [sol-i-tood]

  1. the state of being alone; seclusion: to enjoy one’s solitude
  2. remoteness from habitations; absence of human activity: the solitude of the Grand Canyon
  3. an unfrequented place: a solitude in the mountains

In today’s fast paced world, it is not only difficult for people to find solitude but many have no idea what true solitude is. I, on the other hand, crave the solitude of the back-country; out of touch with civilization but strongly connected to the natural world.

My Solitude series attempts to convey this peaceful feeling and sense of place to those who either don’t have the opportunity to experience it for themselves or want to rekindle the feelings they experienced in a previous visit. In this series, the human viewpoint is implied, not necessarily directly depicted. As I write these words, I am sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with a view not unlike the picture above and have been by in the back country and haven’t seen another human since leaving ‘civilization’ a few days ago. My friends often ask me how I can be ‘out there’ for days at a time. They wonder why I don’t get lonely.

For me, choosing solitude with deliberate intent is a source of unadulterated pleasure. Solitude gives me time for contemplation of both myself and the wonder of the natural world culminating in feelings of being grounded and at peace. As Edward Abbey articulated so well in Desert Solitaire, solitude enables a more complete connection to the external world and with the absence of human interaction, the natural world itself takes on the role of the companion.

Solitude isn’t loneliness. Solitude almost certainly implies either being alone or quietly sharing the experience with another. Loneliness, on the other hand is independent of whether one is alone or in a crowd. Solitude is the peaceful connection to the natural world. Loneliness is the pain of not being connected to other humans.