Sunday, April 18, 2010

Relief of solitude

The New York Times discusses Embracing a Life of Solitude. I can identify with the longing for the relief of the simple peaceful quiet life, free of the demands, tensions, exhaustions, expectations, competitions, struggles, fears, worries, confusions, constructs, and complications of living in society among people. I have that fantasy. For companionship, maybe add a dog. Maybe add a mate and, with her, my child or children. Yet, I'm studying to be a lawyer, which is just about the occupation most intertwined with the grinding machinations of society and the tangled affairs of people, because a part of me still wants to make the world a better place. It seems like a self-destructive contradiction, but perhaps the desire for a perfected world is not entirely contrary to the desire for a life of solitude. Of course, if the world cannot be perfected and I can no longer tolerate the world as it is, then quitting is the only choice left.


Edward Griffith-Jones: “We live in a world where everything is so specialized, now people don’t know how to make anything, they don’t know how to survive,” he said, speaking by cellphone from the forest. “I’m not completely self-sufficient, but I’m learning.”

David Glasheen: In the city, he said, when you need something, “you pick up the phone and everyone comes running. This is an environment where you have to be independent. Most men can’t handle it either.”

--- That's the first problem: I'm born and raised a coddled city kid who lacks even basic Boy Scouts survival skills. I'm too dependent on society. Disconnecting from support networks (the Matrix - ha) requires learning how to be a self-sufficient survivalist even if I embarked on a life of solitude with modern comforts.

Edward Griffith-Jones: “I have to collect firewood, rather than do some job that I have no idea what is the point, which I hate, and from which I am completely alienated,” he said. “Everything in my life feels full of meaning.”

--- The upside of deprogramming as a social derivative and reprogramming as an independent individual. Yes, I know it's hard to be self-sufficient. I took Econ 101 in college; I understand why people banded together to escape the Leviathan and develop relatively secure, stable, specialized, and efficient societies. But we pay for everything we get and we have to pay for everything we desire.

David Glasheen: There is an inherent conflict between the peace of total solitude and the pleasures of companionship, he admitted. “It’s literally like living in heaven on Earth,” he said of the island, but “I guess I could say I’m desperately lonely sometimes.”

--- Speaking from my own experience, that's the second problem: yearning loneliness competes with the relief of solitude. Then again, that particular problem may resolve itself.




Blogger Bag Blog said...

"There is an inherent conflict between the peace of total solitude and the pleasures of companionship"

This is very true. Maybe that is why people move to suburbia - to try and have the solitude at least part of the time. And then everyone moves there and it is no longer peaceful.

As for bachelorhood, obviously your mother is not pushy enough :)

I hope you don't mind my commenting - I came by from Kerplunk.

4/27/2010 8:08 AM  
Blogger Eric said...


I don't mind at all. Welcome.

I imagine dealing with the closing crowds of a city without the convenience must be unpleasant. My favorite living arrangement so far has been a small quiet town (or in my case, a small quiet Army post) about an hour outside of a big city. I had peace and quiet shared with a small familiar community, immediate access to necessary goods and services, and I could take a hike in the mountains as easily as I could catch a ride into the city.

4/27/2010 10:39 AM  

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