solitude

We live in a world full of interaction.  We live in houses with other people, within neighborhoods of many other people.  We work with people face to face, on telephones and through email.  We commute to and from work on buses or trains full of people, stand in line ups waiting to give our coffee order to the barista, and in line ups to pay for our groceries.  We pass others at the dog park and on the biking trails.  We are constantly surrounded by other people, and with that, we are constantly surrounded by all the noise and distraction that accompanies them.

There’s a lot to be said for taking some time for personal space.  For solitude.  Quiet, peaceful solitude.

This is how I spent one of my days this week.  I enjoy spending a day out in nature.  I will wake early, load up survival gear, food, camera gear, and of course, the dog, and head out into the mountains.  During my time there, I am off the grid.  No cell service, no interaction, no noise.  Just the pleasing sounds of nature.  Calming, serene nature.  It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, or where I’m headed.  I don’t know where I’m going when I set out, other than a general area that I target.  I don’t know when I’ll come home either.  Whenever it feels right.  Sometimes I’m content to come back home around dinnertime, and sometimes I don’t leave the mountains until well after midnight.  I may spend the day driving the parkways, or I may spend it hiking.  Sometimes I spend it sitting by a glacier lake.  I’m always photographing something.  The one constant thing when I head out into the wilderness alone is that I don’t speak.  I have my own personal silent retreat.  It’s not as difficult as it sounds, and there is something soothing about the silence.

I think that we get used to the noise, as a generality.  For me it becomes sensory overload.  I need to escape it.  I don’t just desire to remove myself from it all, it is a requirement.  Amidst all the chaos that is modern society, there is a certain appeal to that cabin in the woods, even metaphorically speaking.  I am happiest when I am outside the city drone.  I am happiest when I can tromp through the mountains and watch the wildlife in their habitat.  Elk, moose, mountain goats and mountain sheep, eagles and owls, marmots, weasels and pine martens.  I am happiest being out there in my element, camera in hand and dog at my side.  I look forward to the day where this will become the norm, and those escapes will lead me into the city noise instead of running away from it with all the speed and energy I can muster.  But until that day, I will continue to find my solitude in my mountain retreats.

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