The necessity of splendid isolation
No man is an island, so the saying goes. But there’s something both splendid and necessary about isolation.
The steppes of Mongolia felt like home. The five hour bumpy drive to our camp 300 km out of the capital, traversed vast sweeping plains without fences, trees and often any other living thing in sight. At the crest of every hill another stunning vista greeted us, a landscape of a thousand roads as the Mongolians ‘make their own’ road when other tracks get cut up.
The Mongolian steppes felt like home, as the Australian outback has the same beguiling sense of isolation and belonging.
That sense of belonging might be surprising given I’ve spent all but seven years of my life living in cities. But isn’t this part of the serenity we all feel when we stand on a mountain top, walk along a wild surf beach, we’re out at sea in a boat, or we’re deep within a forest? Explaining why we so often seek these sort of experiences as part of our holidays and escape from everyday life.
Its not just the allure of nature, but being alone with nature. When we just, well, be with ourselves. And be ourselves, without the effort of keeping up and fitting in with a big crowd.
Maybe this sense of belonging on the Mongolian steppes and the Australian outback isn’t all about the landscape, but also the isolation that enables us to connect with ourselves.
As our work and lives are increasingly hyper networked and connected, its both harder and more important to spend time in splendid isolation, that isn’t part of annual holidays or the occasional weekend escape.
Seek out places and times of serenity with yourself. Whether its on a run, a bike ride or sitting under a tree somewhere.
Or if you’re lucky enough to manage it, live on an island. Like I did for seven wonderful years, with daily moments of splendid isolation among the pohutukawas, vineyards and sparkling aqua bays.