The Religion of Solitude


Jean-Paul Sartre, the existential author and philosopher, said that if you are lonely when you are alone, you’re in bad company. Other notable thinkers have written favorably about solitude. Thoreau, the hermit from Walden Pond, said, perhaps self lovingly, that he had “never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” Huxley, who penned the dystopian novel Brave New World, appears to have spun solitude into a place reserved for creative intellectuals when he stated “the more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”

Whether seeking good company or an original idea, I did something last night I think about a lot, but rarely get around to actually doing. I hiked up a mountain and camped solo at 8,000’. I know, not a big deal.

Yet there was the greeting at dawn by a particular great horned owl. The one that, had I not ventured here, would have been replaced by the morning newspaper, hot coffee and every day routine. The one that woke me and beckoned me from my tent. The one who’s prominent hoot-hoot-hoot reminded me that separation from society doesn’t equal being alone, or lonely, when you are in nature.