I find the quest for self-improvement to be quite taxing. I find it to be an emotional rollercoaster that mixes bouts of motivation, self-pride, and excitement, with equal parts depression, lack of discipline, and discouragement. Sometimes when I get down on myself and start to lose focus on the task at hand - the task of becoming a better man - I need to retreat into myself for awhile, and be away from human contact, or at least contact with those that make up my everyday. I find that the introspective process that inevitably accompanies solitude can be quite uplifting and recharging. I feel like things come into focus when I spend extended periods largely on my own, and that I am able to chart a step by step course for the immediate future.
The struggle I have is sustaining the motivation and direction when things return to normal and I am back in touch with my wife and close friends.
Does anyone else find solitude to be as rewarding as I've described?
Absolutely. Best advice I can give you (and yes, it's a cliche, but for a reason): Pick up fishing. Not to catch fish. But because it gives you the perfect excuse to head to the hills, or even the local lake, for some peace and quiet. I'm lucky enough to live in an area where good fishing is literally ten minutes away. So many a night, after work, I can be found on a lake, alone, fishing.
As Nietzsche would say, sometimes you just have to escape the flies in the marketplace.
I completely agree with this. Solitude is a must for any man. It's just finding what fits you is the challenge. I recently went camping for Father's Day for the first time in almost 10+ years. I forgot how much wilderness can recharge you for life. I had got in the habit of playing video games for my escape which doesn't even compare to the outdoors.
So if there was a handbook to be given to every man out there I would definitely say that solitude would be in the first few chapters and the last to drive it home.
A retreat to a quiet spot on the water as often as possible has become a staple in my life; rain or shine, day or night, in the heat of summer or the chill of winter, the rocky Coast of Maine provides me with a place to retreat not only into myself, but into the natural world, away from my cell phone, TV, computer, and (for a brief period) from the worries of my life.
I have little to add to the conversation, but feel the need to reply anyway.
To answer your question, I find solitude to be not only rewarding, but necessary. Typically, like those who commented before me suggested, nature is a necessity; there is nowhere more fitting for a man to contemplate his own existence than when he is surrounded by the soil and the sky from which he was created (and I don't mean that in the strictly religious sense, but I cannot deny a sense of oneness with the world around me). For me, music is also essential. Art is a demonstration that humanity is capable of contemplating what else is possible, and what could be. While I can make no claims to contribute to humanity's collection of art, I have no problem using that of others to help my own development.
With regards to the struggle you have suggested awaits you on the return to the 'real world', perhaps music may help? If you are anything like me, music is explicitly tied to memorable moments, and there's nothing more helpful to reigniting that personal motivation than the private, deeply personal bond you will have created with a song or album. Plus, its easily to incorporate it into your everyday life, and no one needs to know your reasons behind listening to it.
Definately Neccesary. Especially since were all so busy being exposed to all these things all the time its important to step back.
Ask yourself who you are becoming. Id Imagine you feel better when you do that.
I do the opposite, in many ways. I'll go to the woods and hike until my body wants to give out. No one watching, no one to impress, no one to say anything about just how ungodly heavily you're breathing. Just conquer for the sake of telling that mountain who's boss. Build your serenity by creating chaos in your quads from the verticals and your lungs burning like the sun- so when you stop, the mere absence of that pain builds a peace and contentment.
Throw a pack on. Nothing will satisfy like catching and cooking from the land with no help besides a knife and some string. Okay, maybe a hook. Live like your forefathers, see what they see. If you can hear or see cars, go further. Explore. Pioneer. Discover. Be.
There is even an article about humans and nature. The summary of it was the humans who were in a position at work or home to look at or be around nature were collectively less irritable and stressed than those who were able to get out in and look at nature on a regular basis.
I can certainly agree. The woods/mountains/ocean, etc. have a calming effect on humans (myself included) that has no equal.
I would much rather have my 1160 sq ft house on 1/4 acre land in the 'burbs than a 3000 sq ft house in the city with no lot.
What you said is something I have struggled to put into words for a long time. Well done! I love my alone time. I used to ride motorcycles and that was the best time. Just out there on my own, no distractions, not even a car stereo...just you and your thoughts, or no thoughts at all.
"If you are trying to stop a "it makes me feel good" cycle that you feel is unhealthy/unwanted, then simply find what you are trying to smooth over or compensate for. Go back and take care of that.
Your appetite for the alternate…"
"standing back at the end of a long hard project and thinking "I built that".
Seeing my children come running as I pull in the drive at the end of a workday.
seeing my wife's eyes light up as I come in the front door.
"I find that having a supply of really good food to cook over the fire - salmon steaks are my favorite - and plenty of wine helps. You may want to take baby steps by going to a state park that has cabins you can rent. Once you graduate to tent…"