I recently read this blog, which discusses solitude, this essay by William Deresiewicz, and, in particular, the profound impact the book My Side of the Mountain had on the the blogger's appreciation of spending time alone. Honestly, this blog feels like I could've written it, aside from the fact that, shamefully, I have never read Siddhartha. I've also never read Diana Michener's Catching the Sun, but I don't feel like anyone is gasping in shock at that revelation. (She hasn't read Catching the Sun? Was she raised in a barn?)
I have always been a bit of an introvert, and therefore a solitude enthusiast to some degree. My Side of the Mountain absolutely validated that desire within me to spend time alone with nature and my own thoughts. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher encouraged (see also: gave extra credit to) my classmates and I to spend 24 hours alone in our backyards after reading the book. For me, 24 hours was not nearly enough. I spent the better part of a month in a tent, reading, writing in my journal, and fancying myself a regular Thoreau.
Admittedly, I am a social networking addict, and often think that I cannot live without my cell phone and my Macbook. I find, though, that I am never more at peace and less stressed out than when I've spent several days somewhere without any connection to the thousands of acquaintances whose approval and constant feedback I so frequently think I require. A camping trip to Central California last weekend was one of many reminders of this, and, upon returning, I spent two consecutive afternoons sitting in Huntington Beach Central Park working on a short story with only my ugly dog for company. It was, in a word, liberating.
All that to say, it was a nice surprise to stumble upon a blog post that reflects upon My Side of the Mountain with similar sentiments to my own, and which serves as a little bit of a kick in the pants as I sit here with a zillion tabs open in Google Chrome, and realize that 3am feels lonely* to my generation because we don't know how to be alone.
*Apologies to Rob Thomas and the boys of Matchbox 20