In Solitude But Not Alone

The topic of this post was inspired by questions I get concerning my penchant for being alone. Do you really go hunting and fishing alone? Don’t you get scared? Don’t you get lonely? The questions go on and on so I feel it is time to address them.

I grew up in a very strict German household. I had few friends growing up and my nearest sibling was 20 years older than me. I was an imaginative child surrounded by adults and was expected to behave as one myself. I was taught to read and write long before I entered school so books became my escape. My kindergarten teacher signaled me out each day as a classroom nuisance because I could read at a level far beyond my age therefore I was bored with school and acted out. I was forced to spend my recesses alone in the classroom because I was too “disruptive.” Solitude became the best friend of a strange lonely child.

At my uncle’s farm I would spend hours alone in the hay loft or calf pen making up elaborate adventures in my head so vivid that the real world faded before my eyes and the world of my stories became reality. I never felt alone, in fact I sought solitude as a way to escape from my parent’s constant arguing over my father’s infidelity. I hid under the walnut table in the dining room pretending I was in a vast cave full of jewels and gold.

By the time I entered college, writing my stories down in journals became a passion. I had, again, few friends and spent most of my time holed up in my dorm room studying, writing, and drawing as art was another one of my outlets. 

Academia aside, I also discovered hunting and fishing at a young age. Long summer days would be spent sitting on sun bleached docks catching fat bluegills. Fall brought hunting and I would again spend hours alone in a deer stand or duck blind conversing with my God and truly feeling at peace.

The problem with solitude is it becomes an addiction, a need, one which must be fed or the consequences are devastating. I have hunted in groups and fished with others but the older I get the stronger the need to do it on my own becomes. Perhaps that makes me a hermit of sorts, so be it. 

When I am alone in the swamp during duck season the sunrise does not have to compete with senseless conversation. The whisper of duck wings is not missed because someone next to me coughed. The beauty of nature is absorbed through every pore, I am at peace, I am happy.

The same can be said of deer hunting and fishing. The joy in solitude comes from the absence of endless prattle. The pure quite broken only by nature itself and not man. 

The enjoyment of nature is not the only benefit of solitude, the enjoyment of life is another. All too often we define our lives by how many people we can befriend while at the same time being a horrible friend to ourselves. We enter relationships out of desperation in fear of being alone. We love people who don’t love us in return and we break our own hearts over and over. 

I am not exempt from this. I fell, more than once for men who quickly grew bored with me, cheated me, lied, used me and completely knocked me down to a sniveling mess. I blamed myself, staring into mirrors cursing my lack of beauty, my lack of money, my redneckness, my unladylike penchant for hunting and fishing, the fact that I wasn’t a woman a man could love, the list went on and on of reasons why I was alone. Then I realized how much better I always was in life when it was just me. I was more alone when I was in love than when I was by myself in the past. 

So, I embraced solitude once again as a balm for my broken heart. My art flourished, my writing came back, hunting and fishing became once again the things that I poured myself into. I got my happiness back. I quit basing the value of my life on the estimation of others and as a result I am once again moving forward. 

Now I am not saying that you should all be like me. Even I know that human interaction is necessary and something I do seek out in moderation but, again, I have very few friends. They are few but of high quality because that is what I deserve. I tried loving and failed miserably, so, I shall continue to focus on what I am good at and that is living. 

If you get anything out of this I hope it is the understanding that there is a huge difference between solitude and being alone. With solitude you have yourself and the ability to silently enjoy everything around and within you. With being alone you fail to realize that you have yourself and that you should love that person with all your heart before you let anyone else in. 

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