An Aptitude For Solitude
On my way to Back to School Night, the horizon peeked out through the open car window. I smelled the ocean and pictured myself for a moment out on that ocean with nothing surrounding me but the sea, watching the sun rise and the sun set for four days in a row.
I realized how much my soul needs some version of extended solitude. Some people are made for that kind of thing, some think it torture. For some it cleanses their souls from all the sludge that builds up on land and brings them back more ready to attack life, for some it drives them to madness.
I am a member of the former group. I have always had an amazing aptitude for solitude. It is what often has made me forgo going out with a group of friends to finish a project at home. It is what allowed me to survive one very lonely freshman year of college where I would go for days on end without talking to anyone except for the guy who made my sandwiches for lunch.
It is, also, what has driven me to plan this solo adventure, to push the boundaries of what is thought possible for a diabetic, and what has caused me to spend countless hours planning and arranging and seeking out sponsors to get it off the ground.
Many people have asked me why I couldn't bring someone else along with me. A few were concerned for my safety, a few trying to solve the problem of finding a boat to charter from companies that seemed to outlaw solo sailors I tell them there is an extreme difference between sailing solo and sailing with crew. It's in the freedom to indulge every whim right when it hits. To go out as far from land as I want without having to consider another, to see what I want to see, to stop where I want to stop, and to drive on when I want to meet a goal.
It is so unlike my life on land, where it is always a compromise, when I am pulled in a million directions other than the one I truly want to go. Work pulls. Bills pull. Even having to choose a place to eat involves balancing the needs and wants of everyone else. Tony needs to eat clean foods and needs to eat in the next fifteen minutes. Shea won't eat meat. Eli will only eat foods that involve begin dipped in ketchup. I need to sit in a place that involves direct sunlight on my face and all of this has to be done for under twenty dollars.
But, it is not so when you are solo. It is all me. It is simple to balance the things that I want. One opinion to sway the vote, one need to satisfy, one desire to fulfill.
It's not just about indulging my will, though. It's about testing myself without having any fallback. No one else to confer with or lean on when things go wrong, no one to brainstorm with if something breaks, no one to choose a course or to figure out where we went off course and what point on the chart that huge tower actually is. It will just be me.
When the wind picks up or the boat gets grounded, I alone will have to fix it. If you want to know yourself, to truly know of what you are capable, you have to put yourself in those situations where there is a chance that you are in over your head. It is only then that you can find the outer extents of what you are capable of. If you never get to the end of your rope, how can you ever know how long it is?
I hope I am able to find that point so that I can come back knowing that I can handle anything this pedestrian, land-locked life can throw my way. We will have to wait and see...