On Solitude

It is in solitary living that he opens himself to the first experience of the world, without the derivative and all-too-human notions of subjectivity or consciousness or science or religion. Solitude does not mean living in a little room in a city and avoiding one’s friends and family. It does not necessarily mean living on a mountaintop either. Solitude is removing oneself physically to a wholly other world, a different world than one knows. Different language, customs, topography, animals, food, the weather, the sun and stars, the love of a foreign woman, the seasons, buildings, trees, and gods and rivers. In such a place a man lives entirely alone. He has little to grab onto, or that grabs onto him. There is no longer the familiar. This is solitude.

As a result of the surrounding novelty, he has the experience of the world in its glory and wonder. He becomes as the child. He makes the discovery of the world as gift.

If he is traveling by bicycle or on foot his solitude is even purer. He lives in concern for his need of food and water and shelter. He asks that no one other than the food sellers be skillful for him. He addresses this new world with his own skills. He lives nearer to the world’s mystery and thereby awakens the gods to care for him.

Indeed, gifts from the gods may be bestowed upon this solitary man. Ideas and visions and new ways of life as mysterious in origin as the world itself.

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