Walking in a place empty of people carries with it so much more than it should, don’t you think? You go there to be alone, to think, or to try not to think, to get away from crowded malls, from tweets, emails, tv, and all of the things that you have to do. But take those things away and solitude seems like a finger pointing at you, singling out your foolishness. This is the beginning of the story of your disappearance, the story no one will know the truth of for a long time, exactly how the stranger leaped out of the woods and dragged you away. We hear too many of these stories, of hitchers on lonely highways, of overconfident solo hikers, or fading loners, or earnest adventurers who learned their lesson the hard way as they slowly starved alone in the middle of the wilderness. This was just a walk in a west-county park at dusk, and yet, its absolute emptiness, save for a fisherman so far way that he looked smaller than an eyelash, made it seem more like the opening scenes in a movie about the horrors of isolation. You’re either punished for being by yourself, or left alone as punishment.
Do men feel this way? Or is it particular to women, filled with all these stories of kidnapping and peril, starting with Little Red Riding Hood? Our growing up is clogged with cautionary tales. Why else would a true-life story of a woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone be so intriguing to us?
But it’s so beautiful here alone. I understand why you need to be smart, to chose your where and whens. I understand why we need to share, I understand that completely. But there are times when you have to be by yourself to see, to hear, to really be where you are.