Creative LeadershipCreativity

When Was the Last Time You Were Really Alone?

In my twenties, I had the opportunity to lead a film crew to the headwaters of the Amazon River in Brazil.  We flew into the country, took a light plane up river, then chartered a freighter for a couple of days, then took a canoe the rest of the way.  It was before the days of mobile phones and email, and we certainly had no snail mail or phone of any kind that far up river.  We were there almost a month filming a medical team working in the heart of the Amazon basin.

During that trip we were completely cut off from the outside world – no communication, no contact, nothing.  How long as it been since you were completely alone?  Technology companies spend billions of dollars telling us how important it is to be connected, when 24/7 connection isn’t necessarily such a desirable thing.  Philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich said, “The word “loneliness” exists to express the pain of being alone, while “solitude” expresses the glory of being alone.”

How about you?  Are you so connected you never take time out to live deeply?  Can you appreciate the value of solitude, or do you have to be near someone physically or at least connected to a mobile device? Even Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the desert alone before launching into his life’s purpose.

For me, I’m going to start looking for reasons to get away, get inside my head, and stop living such a shallow life, bouncing back and forth from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.  Certainly there are times when “community” is a good thing, but not always.

Care to give it a shot?

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5 Comments

  1. Sounds intriguing.  How disconnected? I’m assuming no 2 way communication.

    Any 1 way communication, TV/Radio/Read only browsing?

    Or no electronics, but books, magazines or papers perhaps? (Maybe a Kindle?)

  2. I spent three days solo bushwalking in the snowy mountains this month. It was an awesome experience to climb Mt Namadgi, watch the sunrise then get a text from my wife to say my Dad was all clear of cancer. I suppose I had the best of both world, solitude AND mobile phone reception on the high peaks!

  3. I love solitude, but rarely does it happen. Walking or praying, reading, thinking behind a closed door is as close as I get.  One thing is for sure, there is nothing like being outdoors and fully connected to your surroundings, alone.
    Funny you should mention social media Phil…. I purposely took a complete break from Facebook and Twitter for more than a week recently and I didn’t even miss it! And because of my break, I came to the conclusion that I’d rather engage in life than spending my time posting comments on my wall and others. I don’t need to keep up, prove or impress anything to anyone… how shallow! Life is meant to be lived, not continually commented about. Disconnecting frequently is actually freeing.

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