Adventure: I Prefer To Be Alone

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I prefer to be alone. I’m often not, at least physically, but my mind always tends to be. This can make interaction awkward, tiring, and disjointed. Conversation happens, movement happens, vehicles and the tools of the adventure combine, but they run a parallel race to what transpires in my mind. I’ve always been this way, it’s always been this way. Even during a good merger with fellow humans, I’m often thinking of the moment when I can break away and assess what transpired. Making notes, or just having a quiet think.

I don’t search for drama in my life. There is enough already. A broken furnace, canceled flights, an ailing parent. The natural world, once engaged beyond the screen, has a way of neutralizing the nonsense and artificial drama of the modern world. It either works being here or it does not. Many folks talk of places like this but rarely go. (thankfully) Or once there, they dip their toe then retreat to the safety of comfort, routine, room service, email, or the streaming service of choice. It’s far easier to turn inward than give yourself to what lives out there, out beyond where the demons are.

As a child, I was dropped in the middle of nowhere. Rifle, binoculars, canteen, and notepad to track breeding patterns of Angus beef. The glass pack Chevy pulling away, small tornados of dust swirling up from all terrains as my leather-soled boots crunched gravel underfoot. Glassing the hills for hours, plinking prairie dogs as afternoon storms blew out of the mountains and across the high-altitude plains. It was heaven. No, it was better than that because it was real, in front and around me, and it left a residue I can’t begin to deny.

Open space gives and takes away.

I prefer to be alone.
Galisteo Basin Preserve, 2022

Comments 14

  1. Dan, I see a little parallel in my life with yours, except I’m in urban London and have been for more than 30 years. I grew up as a teenager on an English was rough, and a sentimental free zone. I progressed from home made bow and arrow through air gun to finally 308 rifle. Haymaking in summer and pheasant beating in winter. Hunting, shooting and fishing, but on an English small Island scale. I became a TV & film stills photographer and am now in the swansong of this work. I need to realise a photographic project of my own, not for exhibition or any kind of social documentation but just probably a book for my own shelf, to sit alongside the Moriyamas and Franks. I’ve struggled to find a project that motivates me enough. I think though I have concluded that I don’t want to have to deal with the politics of people. Robert Adams is a photographer I admire greatly, not just his pictures, but his calm, kindly attitude to life.
    Being alone in the fields and woods is undeniably therapeutic, space and quiet from constant city noise. We are having to deal with nonsense, the literal meaning of the word, daily and it’s tiring and draws too much from ones dwindling energy. Enjoy your time with yourself, and wander……
    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced; but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company:
    I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

    William Wordsworth.

  2. I used to worry about how much time I spent alone outdoors in nature but the more I do it the more I realise that it’s the right thing to do.

  3. Hi Dan, I can relate.
    A few years ago I lost my wife to cancer. My intention was to bury my grief in world travel.
    COVID put an end to that.
    I purchased a small campervan as an alternative. I now free camp in quiet spots and walk trails etc.
    Cool to cold in the ‘high country’ is my favourite.
    The thing I can’t do is explain why the whole experience is so theraputic? Nature? DNA throwback? The analysis is beyond my pay grade.
    Anyway I thought that I would throw in the last two para’s of a poem written in 1889.
    1889 was a time when the term ‘digital revolution’ had a totally different meaning.
    Being a voracious reader, I’m sure that you would have read the poem but it might be time for a revisit?
    Thanks for your output. It’s always enjoyable and thought provoking.

    Clancy of The Overflow by ‘Banjo’ Paterson. ( last 2 para’s )

    And the hurrying people daunt me,and their pallid faces haunt me
    As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
    With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
    For the townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

    And I somehow rather fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,
    Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
    While he faced the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal –
    But I doubt he’d suit the office, Clancy, of “The Overflow’.

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      The van is SUCH a life changing thing. I can’t believe I didn’t do this thirty years ago. Sorry about your wife.

  4. “…The natural world, once engaged….” Exactly! That’s what brought me to Patagonia, and one of the aspects which kept me here.

  5. “Oh God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.”

    I’ve taken the train from Boston to LA a couple of times and the Sangre deCristo Mountains is where the train always breaks down.

  6. My life on social media has become less and less the more I watch your videos and read your posts…
    This IS a good thing! I thank you for that.
    I also prefer to be alone and find my own way.

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  7. I love this Dan. The way you’ve written here both enables me to immerse myself in the detailed (without being verbose) recollection of your memories. Whilst also, for me, has helped me reflect upon how I would similarly describe myself. I feel like I’m a social creature, yet I relish time alone to get out into nature and hike, shoot landscapes or mountain bike. Yet I also enjoy getting out into the city alone to shoot street photography. When I do the latter it feels as though I’m amongst people but on the periphery, just observing and documenting life as it passes by. And I feel almost like it’s meditation in movement. I’ll speak to other folk. But they’ll be brief encounters then I’ll move on, observing, photographing and getting a feel for the place. If I don’t do this here and there I crave it. I adore my wife and kids and time with them, yet I need time with myself out there in the world. Sorry for the long blurb….I just felt the urge. All the best. Regards. Neil Matthews, UK.

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