A while back I posted a list of ten things, in no particular order, that I want to accomplish before I die. I thought it would be helpful for me to explain each thing on the list, more as an inspiration for me to keep striving to accomplish them someday. I already blogged about goal #3, kayaking the length of the Columbia River, here is #8 on the list.
Spend a month without seeing or speaking to another person.
Of all the things I want to accomplish on my list, this one may be the most difficult. Given the fact that I have a family and a job that requires me to talk to real people I may not get the chance to spend a month sans people for quite some time, but what good are goals that are easy to accomplish?
Why would a sane person want to spend a month without talking to anyone else? Let's just say spending that much time alone allows you the freedom to figure out your own shit. I believe we all need some headspace from time to time, to clean out the garbage that collects in our brains while we move through life.
Back in 1992 I spent 7 days on a solo backpacking trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana. If you have never been to the "Bob", I suggest you put it on your list. It is a wilderness area just south of Glacier National Park, in fact it's northern border is the southern boundary of Glacier. Most people opt to visit Glacier, so the Bob remains relatively untouched. Trails are singletrack horse paths, and it is not uncommon to see more bears than people (I saw one bear, no people, except at the trailhead).
As a college kid back in '92, I didn't really know who I was, didn't know where I was headed, but I never really slowed down enough to give myself the time to figure it out. You spend 7 days alone in the wilderness, and trust me, you get to know yourself pretty well. Driving back to Spokane from that trip I was more sure of myself, I felt like my life had a renewed purpose and I was released from the mental traps that I had allowed myself to be in. No longer did I feel like I had to fit into the mold that my family and society expected from me. It was during this trip that I also decided to move out of Eastern Washington after graduating, something I did two years later. Boise, Salt Lake City, and Bellingham were all places I considered, but Hood River, Oregon won out. Looking back on my six years in Oregon, it was a definitive point in my life, and had I not spent the time to figure out what I really wanted to do after graduation, who knows where I would be today.
So back to how I am going to accomplish this goal. I am lucky to have two months off every summer, so coming up with the time will be easy, but I'm not going to ditch my wife and family so I can go sit under a tree for a month. It is going to have to wait until my two kids are out of the house, which is going to be at least 18 years from now, and I figure by then my wife will be happy to see me go away for a month. So this one will have to wait. I also think once the young 'uns are out on their own it may be a good time for me to do a little soul searching to see what I want to do with the next chapter of my life. I love living in Massachusetts for now, it has a lot going for it, but I'm sure as hell not going to spend my retirement stuck in traffic, but that is a topic for another blog.
The second question is where would I go to get away from it all? If I am going to spend a month alone I would want a purpose or a task, like hiking through to a destination or building something. I'm NOT looking to meditate for 30 days, no dreams of finding nirvana or becoming a Buddhist, I'd go nuts in about three hours. I need to be doing something. I thought about hiking the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trail, but I'm afraid I'd run into too many other hikers. I've considered sailing to the Caribbean, but again, it might be hard to avoid any contact. I might need to rethink the whole "not seeing or speaking to anyone" thing, maybe just doing it solo would be enough.
So where does one go to escape for a month? My family owns five acres on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains, so that is an option. We built a small cabin on it when I was a kid, and I figure it might need to be fixed up in 15-20 years, so I could spend a month doing that. On top of that the cabin has no running water or electricity, so when I'm not repairing something I could be hauling water, preparing food, playing my guitar, or reading. Not a bad way to live for a month if you ask me. I've got some time to figure this one out, but I would appreciate any thoughts. Where would you go if you could spend a month alone?
Listening to: Son Volt- Wide Swing Tremolo