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COLUMN: Summer is fleeting, so go outside, find solitude!

You don’t have to eat roots and berries, but a simple getaway should be just that ... simple, urges columnist
Match Lake 15Jun09 059
Life is busy, so it's important to find a way to get away from the bustle and enjoy the solitude, says columnist.

You may be retired, semi-retired or just hoping to retire; you may be hard at work or hardly working; you may be living at home with your parents or back living at home with your parents: no matter your situation, this time of year always brings forth that winsome spirit that declares it’s time to hit the road, go exploring and just get me the heck outta here!

Vacation time is the usual venue for summer escapes, however, if the urge is strong enough, there’s nothing that will stop you from seeking your own little bit of freedom whenever or however it’s possible.

Ever see a ‘road trip movie’ that was set in the winter? Nope, because summer weather is a tad more accommodating for the happy wanderer.

Those who study social behaviours and patterns might tell you that our need for time alone (or at least a simpler lifestyle for a while) is that funny opposing need to be part of the gang, to be surrounded by people and activity. But too much socializing can eventually lead to a very strong desire to go and live in a cave by yourself (at least for a while).

Due to an incredible cave shortage in our area, most urban runaways have to settle for a campground site in a park. Ah, the solitude! Well, except for the other 1,200 solitude seekers who share the park with you that weekend. Something seems to get lost in the process.

Granted, not every park has high-speed internet hookup at each site (yet) so it’s understandable that in order to be self-sufficient one must bring their own battery pack to sustain the necessities of life, such as iPod (for 24 hours of relaxing music to drown out the drone of the mosquitoes), Facebook (to let all your friends know what a wonderful time you are having, minute by minute), Google (to research the fascinating facts you learned on the nature walk), home e-mail (because Grandpa won’t use Facebook), office e-mail (oh come on, really?), G-mail, GPS map downloads, cell phone and whatever else was invented and launched last week.

Methinks I doth protest too much, yet, jeez Louise, does anybody know what it means to be alone? Just you and a little shelter over your head for the night, a small fire to warm the evening chill, an awareness of the symphony of night sounds that just aren’t heard in the daylight hours.

You don’t have to eat roots and berries, but a simple getaway should be just that ... simple.

The cave shortage has been mentioned, and I guess I also need to acknowledge that there are few, if any, places left where you can just go and be by yourself. In southern and central Ontario, the sounds of a highway, railway or boat-infested lake are never too far away.

Being alone is not the same as being lonely. You can be ‘alone’ in a room full of people and be quite content, or you can be in that room chatting it up and feel quite lonely. It’s all a matter of your perspective of the situation. Same with being in the great outdoors, some adjust to the solitude, the ‘alone-ness’, better than others who long for company.

With today’s pressures of business and finance, family rearing and dream chasing, there is a definite need for escapism.

Here is a quote from a book I’m reading at the moment: “Have you ever been away in the wild woods, beyond the range of civilization? … If you have not, throw down your book or your pen, close your ponderous ledger, cast away your briefing notes), give care to the dogs, and turn your back upon the glare and heat of the city, its eternal jostling and monotonous noises, and fly to the deep shadows of the mountains, the forest dells and running brooks – away from the clustered houses and rough it for a few weeks in the woods.”

The above darn good advice was written by Sam Hammond, in a short story within his book, Hunting Adventures in the Northern Wilds. What I found to be the most interesting aspect of Mr. Hammond's essay, was that it was written and published in 1863! No typo there, it was 157 years ago that he urged his fellow urbanites to flee the city and return to the simple life within the woods.

Some things never change. We all, individually, need that solitude time, that alone time, to really get a perspective on the other realities within our lives. Too bad about the caves, but give it a try whenever you can. Summer is fleeting!