Why You Should Be a Loner
At Least From Time to Time
“Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.” ―Albert Einstein
Being a loner, although encouraged by Albert Einstein himself, is not really something our modern society would regard as worth doing. We live in a world that praises extroverted practices and where we are connected to literally everything except ourselves.
I usually make a longer trip just by myself at least once a year. It helps me to put things into perspective, to gather distance and re-order everything in my head. This year I will head to Ecuador and Galapagos, settle with my backpack on an island in the middle of Pacific Ocean, with salty water in the tap and barely any Internet connection. I cannot wait to be disconnected, lost, confused, terrified by mosquitos, free, light, living the simple life and feeling more alive than ever.
But this time, I must admit, I almost decided against it. Somehow we have this crazy feeling of missing out, losing something. There is always something happening where I am, there is always something I cannot have if I go. There are people we would prefer not to leave, there are jobs we would prefer not to deny, there are events we would prefer not to skip. But I must go because for the normal world it is just a month without me, nobody will really notice my absence, while for my soul it is a year-worth recharge of creativity, inspiration, and humbleness.
I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. It is as if I always met in those places some grand, serene, immortal, infinitely encouraging, though invisible, companion, and walked with it by my side.
I am not the type of person that gets homesick in the traditional sense. But I get extremely homesick for my lonely travels, long walks, waking up with the sun, challenging my comfort zone and letting my surroundings give me a completely different view of things that I normally take for granted. I get homesick for silence, for the feeling that I am doing just enough, that my time is precious and human beings never stop surprising.
Sometimes my stomach aches from this hunger, not for food, but for everything else.
“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.” — Norton Luster
Last time I went to Mexico and even while living in places which are really poor and rather not visually appealing, I was thriving. When you have an open heart and peaceful mind, the world is constructed in such a way that it meets you halfway in moments precisely like these. It always does, even in the bleakest regions of the world, for nothing is as relative as beauty.
I remember waking up at 5am and making my way to the school I was volunteering for. As I walked down the muddy road, I had a place in my heart for everything I beheld. A lost white cat crossing my way: fantastic. A destroyed house with a set of swings outside painted mint-green: so beautiful. The smell of freshly fried tacos: incredible. An old man walking slowly with a bucket full of fresh fish and screaming around his marketing slogans: what a sight.
When you make the move to experience something different, when you approach your surroundings with curiosity and humility, not taking anything for granted, the world gives you its hand. And you can just take it.
I am going into the wildness to rest my mind, to think deeply, to pay attention, to savour breakfasts and read books. I will try to live it all and write it all down. A requiem to a fried banana, an aria to an old turtle.