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I recently have been interested in a television program called Alone: ten men volunteer to be placed miles from each other in the wilderness of Vancouver with only a small backpack with items they choose to carry with them.  The reward for the last man to give up on his wilderness adventure was rewarded with half a million dollars.  Fifty-three days and there was only one fellow left.

One of the interesting things about the show was that the men truly were alone.  They filmed themselves.

As the men had to find their own food and shelter,   hunger and the elements wore their bodies down.  Fear of wild predators and inclement weather wore on their mental health.  However, the greatest factor which ultimately made nine of the ten surrender themselves to civilization was their loneliness.


As I watched the program, I thought to myself that I too would have difficulty providing enough food for myself, and I don't care for the prospect of being eaten by a bear or cougar, but being alone would not be a dominate factor for me.

Frankly, I have no problem being alone.  Being alone has never been something I feared.  Now this is not to say that I don't enjoy the company of others, which I do, particularly my wife Linda, but being alone is something which I tolerate quite well.

Language... has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone.

Paul Tillich

When I was just a kid, I spent a lot of time in woods alone.  I never felt lonely.  When I worked as a teacher, I spent a lot of time alone working after hours and weekends at school.  Usually it was just me and a silent building.  The same thing applies to my work as a librarian.  It was good to be alone so that I could accomplish my goals without interruptions.  Even today I spend hours alone painting.

I think the reason I am not bothered by being alone is that I always find something to do.  I once commented to my dear old ma that I was bored; I had no idea what fury this innocent statement would illicit.  I was told in no uncertain terms that was my responsibility and that I needed to find something to do…now.   When alone I don't think I've ever been bored since that moment.

My greatest fear was that when I retired I wouldn't have enough to do.  I solved that problem by becoming a painter, a writer, and manager of an online magazine.  None of these activities makes much money for me, but they do keep me from being bored.

The fellows on Alone seemed to do so much better when they could concentrate on seeking food or improving their camps.  In other words, when they kept busy, they didn't feel lonely.

I know folks get lonely, and I feel for them.  Everyone needs something to do---something to be productive.  It doesn't matter much what it is.  Just something.  We don't have much control over the folks we interact with, but we all have control of what we do.

Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.

Dag Hammarskjold

I don't think my comfort with being alone is based on a heart which is pure.  Those who know me best know the worst, and they would readily testify that I am not burdened by a pure heart.  No my comfort with being alone is based on the fact that I usually have something to do when I am alone.

I think my most enjoyable moments are the time when I sit on my front porch drinking my morning coffee before the sun rises.  I am definitely alone as most of the rest of the world sleeps.  My mind is at its sharpest, and I have thoughts of things I plan to do.

I guess I'm really speaking to the retired or those nearing retirement.  The young don't listen so well.  I would probably be wasting my breath or computer if I tried to convince them that there are ways to turn loneliness into solitude.

If those of you approaching your golden  years do not have enough to do in retirement, don't retire.  Keep on working until you drop dead in your traces.

I just thought, “Does anyone use the word traces anymore?”  Oh, well, I'm old but so far I haven't been lonely even when alone.