Solitude

Alone one is never lonely: the spirit adventures, waking
In a quiet garden, in a cool house, abiding single there;

There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone:
It finds a lovely certainty in the evening and the morning.

– Canticle 6, May Sarton

Among the first questions people ask when learning I’m a solo nomadic is “Don’t you get lonely?” or “How do you cope with loneliness?”

Truth is, I only think about these concepts when someone asks about them, so for me it’s a “no” to both questions. To understand my response, you need to know I’m a natural introvert who’s learned to be an extrovert on demand. When interactions overload the senses, then I need space and quiet to reflect and think, to be alone.

For someone like me, solo traveling in my RV is an ideal lifestyle, one where I can occasionally enjoy face-to-face socializing yet on the whole, have plenty of alone time to reflect, to write, to think. When living in a city, this seemed only possible when retreating inside of a house’s four walls. In my rolling RV home, I can move on down the road or find a secluded camp site in nature and spend hours or days in solitude.

Exploring Hueco Tanks State Park, Texas

Probably the least understood need by introverts is for time alone. Often judged as unsociable or unfriendly, it’s really how we recharge our batteries so we can endure (and mostly enjoy) encounters and interactions with others. One good example happens during Travato meet ups (a three+ day get together of Travatos anywhere from six vans to a hundred or more), the Travato tribe accepts it if one occasionally retreats to the van for several hours versus hanging out constantly around the fire, on the porch, or wherever the active social circle. This behavior, at least in my experience, is not as accepted in the business world, thus the need for introverts to develop the ability to toggle extrovert mode on demand, akin to role playing or method acting I suppose.

The reality of today’s connected world means none of us are truly alone. Most introverts I know, including myself, engage in online conversations and those seem to exist in our introverted worlds somewhere between in-person socializing and being alone: not as potentially draining as being with people, yet not as isolated as solitude when there’s no internet connection.

But here’s the part some people struggle to see as positive about introverts traveling solo: you are the only decider on where to go, stay, see, or do. As the old saying goes, you are both chief and head bottle washer: decisions and how to spend time are all yours (for good or bad!). Traveling with a companion is more about ongoing compromises and there’s nothing wrong with that if one needs that constant companionship.

So when others ask these questions, I smile and say “Not really,” when I’m actually thinking “How could I be, when I go and do where and what I want and have all this nature around me to commune in introspection and quiet solitude.” As Sarton said, being alone is never lonely for those that embrace a free spirit.

7 thoughts on “Solitude

  1. peggypopourfrench

    Usually followed by ‘so what do you do with all of your alone time?’ How frequently I want to respond with ‘contemplate my navel’. And of course as a single women I get ‘ALONE, aren’t you afraid?!?’ Alone=Lonely…. thankfully, no. Nice to know you Gary, safe travels.

  2. Marilyn Walter

    I totally understand exactly where you are coming from! Been there done that and enjoyed! Now, traveling with a Dearly Loved Best Friend, I couldn’t be Happier! Be in the Moment and Travel On!

  3. Susan Pell

    Well said Gary! You do have a gift for writing! How’s your visit @ Ann’s going? Love her new mod that you helped with! Where are your travels taking you next? I’m still working my way back home. Spending tonight in Starke,FL Stopping tomorrow to see a Travato friend in St Pete Beach,& stay the night. Then will be home on Saturday!👍🏻🙂 Home for 3 weeks, then to the VA rally. From there, driving to CA to visit family. Take care, Susan

    Sent from my iPhone

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    1. Hi Susan – Not at Ann’s yet until next week. Thanks for the kind words, and sounds like you’re in for a long haul from VA to CA!

  4. miatagrrl

    Amen to introversion! And by the way, your Travato meetups sound a lot like the Urban Sketchers Symposium… you can socialize if you want to, but if you wander off for a sketch or sketch while also having the conversation, no one thinks you’re anti-social or rude! 😉

    1. In many ways they are similar: both are tribes of strangers brought together by a common passion which allows for instant friendship and conversation. Very interesting cause and effect…something I’m writing about as a chapter in the book.

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