An Appreciation of Solitude

Dec 8, 2019 · 3 min read

Written for F4Thought #126 - One Book

Books have always been a big part of my life. We all read voraciously as a family, with time set aside most evenings for all of us to sit and read, be it newspapers, magazines or books. When I went off to boarding school and had access to bigger and better libraries, this only fueled my addiction more. As a career man and a functional alcoholic, opportunities to read are limited to a few minutes snatched at night before I’m overcome by sleep, but it’s something I’m determined to change.

A few years ago, I’d joined a book club to force myself into reading again, and one week we read a personal memoir that changed my life in many ways. For anyone who has gotten caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and has dreamed of getting away from it all, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout will read like a how-to manual. Especially for city-dwellers who spend their lives surrounded by other people and the fixings of modern life, this book will certainly give you perspectives you might never have considered before.

Writer Philip Connors’ debut novel narrates two stories interwoven within each other, first as he walks away from his Wall Street Journal reporter job for a few months every year to volunteer as a fire watch in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, and then the second emerges as he talks about his motivations and the quest that he is on spending weeks at a time in utter solitude.

Every time I read this book I find a different part of it to fixate on. Sometimes it’s appreciation of the cathartic power of fire as it sweeps in and lets life start anew. Other times it’s the rugged beauty of wilderness untouched by man’s meddling hands. And yet other times it’s the philosophical questions he asks of himself, which he goes on to answer and which define the character of his soul and who he is as a person.

Connors marries two concepts that are integral to my being — nature and self — in such a mindful way that this book often feels like it’s been written for me. Avid readers will know that feeling only too well, and will have a special spot on their bookshelves for those one-of-a-kind books, and Fire Season is one such book for me.

Read more about what our fellow bloggers consider their ‘One Book’ over at Food 4 Thought.


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