As a practice, the opportunity for enjoying complete and utter solitude is rapidly in danger of becoming a lost art. Possibly, it comes as a result of the difficulties involved in obtaining its primary ingredient, the opportunity to be alone. It is certainly understandable, as wild areas are getting more uncommon amidst an ever encroaching world.
A recent report from the National Park Service reveals the sounds of civilization can now be heard in more than 30 percent of our nation's wilderness areas. Despite our best efforts to escape, we can no longer hide from the jets overhead, nor the entrails they leave behind on the blank sky.
Even after darkness engulfs the planet, the mysterious voids of the evening sky are not longer immune, as satellites or space stations intrude to leave a paw print on the blank, black blanket that once was the "Great Beyond."
Climbers atop Mt. Everest regularly use hand-held satellite phones to proclaim they've made it; as do astronauts. It has become impossible to escape the din of civilization. As a society, we are heading toward a time when, according to the New York Times, "portable phones, pagers, and data transmission devices of every sort will keep us terminally in touch."
However, in a more important aspect, society has become almost terminally out of touch. Our innate need for genuine and constructive aloneness has been lost and forgotten and, in the process, so has a part of all of us.
Over the years, I've learned there are times when I don't need to be in touch or I just don't want to be. Although humans are surely social animals, we also have a great need to spend time alone.
The scent of solitude provides us with the opportunity to enjoy the companionship of the only individual we will ever share our lives with from the beginning to end - oneself.