December 30, 2017

Solitary Sought. Solitary Found.

Bell Canyon Trail with Santiago Pk 
There is, I believe, a fundamental need that lurks in many of us. It's something that we don't usually talk about because, um, well, we've been trained not to talk about stuff that might make us seem odd, or different, from everyone else.

I'll call this, simply, the need to be alone. Or more specifically, the need to be away from people, at least some of the time. Not just away from the assholes, or the obnoxious ones, just people. Yes, many of us, some more than others, just need to be alone and, frankly, away from people. At least for a period of time. Away from their voices. Away from their attitudes. Away from their beliefs. Just away. Far away. Far enough away so that we cannot hear or see any trace of them. 

This is not a new concept, this need to spend time alone. Its been around for millennia.  Christian monks (along with devout Buddhists, Hindus and Taoist, to name a few) have lived eremitic (secluded) lives long before any of us starting seeking solitude from the holiday shopping hordes. As soul seekers, they no doubt found this to be a cleansing experience.       

I don't know, but maybe there is some connection here to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, that the need (according to Maslow) for social belonging ultimately gives way to the need for self-actualization and even self-transcendence as we develop and grow. Is this why when we think of hermits we picture old crotchety men? These must be the guys, alone, at the top of Maslow's ladder.     

When I got in my Jeep this morning and began to drive, I chose not to decide where to go. I was headed out for a run, but hadn't decided where. So I just started driving. As I drove, many trails and potential places to run began flashing through mind. I took inventory of each one, and I tried to weigh the good and the bad of each. But all I could think about was one thing - the solitude of each place (or lack of solitude, actually).

The next thing I knew I was pulling up to one of my favorite (and most solitary) trails. I made it nearly four hours before I saw a single person!

Ok, I'm not crawling under a rock any time soon, but it felt good to cleanse. 

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