Some Thoughts About Aloneness

A few months ago, I came across a six-month job offer at a research station in Antarctica. One of the requirements was a mental evaluation to ensure the isolation would not prove detrimental to one’s emotional well being.  Whether a person has come into isolation by accident (as in the movie Castaway) or by choice (like a six-month stint in Antarctica), the same element weaves itself into the situation of both. Can one truly live alone with no form of interaction of any kind, and if so, for how long? I think that we know in our hearts our very basic instincts are geared towards interaction with something or someone. As for me, I am steeped in a faith of a creator, a higher power—God, in whom I can commune with anytime, day or night, so my personal detachment from everything is not totally accurate.

No man is an island unto himself,” my mother used to say whenever I chose to stay in as opposed to going out with my friends. The fact is, I’m a diehard hermit and I prefer it that way. I have lived my entire life longing for the chance to be an island unto myself. I know that some people step away from society because they have lost faith in it. The sadness, ugliness, and sheer meanness of people resonates daily, and I find myself tiptoeing through the muck just to retain a stitch of compassion for them. Whenever I can, though, I choose to be alone where at least I don’t have to contend with others. However, one must realize that being alone and being lonely are two different things. 

Take the movie Castaway, for instance. The writers probably knew that trying to base the entire movie around one person with no dialogue and no contact would prove to be boring and unbelievable, thus the introduction of “Wilson” the volleyball. In the movie Into the Wild, a young man chooses to give up everything for a chance to live his life out by himself in the wilderness, yet even in this movie, one of his entries into his diary mentions loneliness. (He also has to depend somewhat on resources from the outside world in order to pursue his dream.)

Does total isolation bring us closer to ourselves or take us further away from sanity? Maybe the verdict is still out. Still, I would love to be given the chance. Drop me off on the moon—with of course proper provisions to sustain life and see if I can survive. Perhaps I could feel closer to my creator and commune with only Him. After all, talking to myself has not turned out to be the most reliable communication!