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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Solitude


Much is made in paleo circles of the importance of engaging in a “tribe”, whether it be family, neighborhood, church family, or even a stone-age tribe, should you happen to have one.  (And I don’t mean old Flintstone episodes)!  In fact, I am one of those espousing the essential nature of having a tribe.  It really is a necessary thing, for both physical and mental health.

BUT, the yin to the yang of that idea is that each of us, whether we realize it or not, needs solitude.  And I don’t mean just being alone to go on Facebook, or to shop on Ebay- I mean being completely alone, with not telephone, cell phone browsing, computer surfing, or television watching- I mean just YOU.  I want to say “no electronics”, but that’s not right either- electric lights and such are fine; after all, how can you read otherwise in the dark, unless you are like Abe Lincoln by the fireplace light?

Constantly interacting with others is NOT OK- it is a sign of dependence, and is not healthy if done to excess.  Humans need to have time alone; time to reflect, to get back in touch with their very natures.  In the modern, electronically connected world, this is increasingly hard to accomplish- but it is even more necessary for all that!

I isolated myself today in one of the best ways I know how: I went out to my Fortress of Solitude- my PUB! 

“A pub, you say?  How can that be isolating, how can that be regenerative?”  Well, let me tell you.  This pub is right on my property, set well back from my rural house, right back in the woods.  It is nothing more that an 8’ X 14’ Amish built shed that I had hauled there years ago, and my wife and I decorated as an Irish pub.  We outfitted it with a bar, a long couch, chairs and stools.  I also added, since we live in the wilds of Wisconsin, a propane heater that keeps it as toasty as I’d like!   I also run lamps and clocks within it, with a LONG extension cord from the garage and batteries.  It really is like a tiny Irish pub, in the middle of nowhere.

Today, in preparation for a stressful upcoming rest of the week, I went down there to ‘rest up’, which more accurately refers to getting in touch with my inner, paleolithic self.  “Hi, PaleoJay, how are you doing?  Let’s spend some time together.”  That’s what I asked myself, and that’s what I did.  Me, myself and I- we might as well have been in the howling wilderness of the far, far north- I could hear the wind howling outside, as I sat with my book on the couch.  The wind, and nothing else.  The light from an old lamp illuminated my pages, and I was utterly immersed for hours.

I had brought down a cigar, and eventually smoked it, along with some dark chocolate and a few beers… BAD PaleoJay!   Not really, but I imagine some of you are chanting that.  It was SO relaxing, I hardly noticed that several hours had gone by! 

My wife had started a pot roast with a Highland beef roast this morning, and I was dying to try that, so eventually I made my way up back to the house.  I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, but I hadn’t even noticed hunger, until I got inside- wow, did that smell good!  And it tasted even better.

As I ate, I thought of how good I felt, mentally- I had worked out hard this morning, going particularly hard on isometrics, more of which I will expand upon later.  But this had made me so relaxed, that I was content to sit motionless for hours on end, rebuilding.  I also thought of solitude, and how important it is for us to be by ourselves on a regular basis. 

So important do I think solitude to be, that I have TWO Fortresses of Solitude!  (Even Superman only had ONE!)  I have my backyard Irish Pub, and my family also has a cabin just over an hour away, back in the woods.  When I go to either place, I KNOW there will be no phone calls, no TV, and only solitude.  At the cabin, I can start a fire in the fireplace, and then just meditate as the logs crackle and the flames dance across the log walls.  I can read, and I can write, both of which are cathartic, creative acts; unlike television, which is uncreative consuming, something to be minimized at all costs.

But creative endeavors are to be cultivated- and that is why both my backyard PUB and my log cabin are also- juke joints.  Sometimes I perform for others, but when I am at either of these places, I generally play for myself and myself alone.  I can go for long periods, and it is wonderful fun, as fun as writing is- for, we mostly have forgotten, but creating things, stories or art or music or theater or woodcarving or- anything- is the greatest form of fulfillment and entertainment that we, as humans, can find!

I went back a month ago, and this is what I found I had recorded I did at the cabin- it’s not meant to be performance, or impressive- but it sure was a lot of fun!  Imagine, it was just me, all alone in a small cabin, with a small amp, a guitar, and the drum machine on my phone.  As the wind sighed through the pines outside while the fireplace blazed, there was your PaleoJay, hacking away on his guitar and just generally having a blast!

In solitude.







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