content='index,follow' name='robots'/> Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom: Alone

Thursday, May 8, 2008


~~ ALONE ~~ What does that feel like? I wondered about that after viewing an hour-long documentary last night on PBS. The show was about Dick Proenneke alone in the wilderness in Twin Lakes, Alaska.

It started out with him wanting to see if he could live one whole year in remote Alaska. It turned out with him finally leaving at the age of 82 after 35 years.

Here is a compressed 9-minute glimpse of this amazing man and how he worked using simple tools to build his cabin living in harmony with Nature and the elements.

Alone In The Wilderness taken from ihateyotube11 on YouTube

I have been feeling reflective lately. I suppose it’s the energy of Spring coming on and noticing the changes all around. This was another one of those introspective times in viewing this video.

I wondered what does a man think of in his quiet times when he is alone in a remote area like this. What keeps you there – for 35 years? In the beginning, long days and months are spent in building your shelter, as it was for Dick, and preparation for food and water and in exploration. But when that is finished and life settles in to routine maintenance and chores, do you ever miss companionship or the sound of someone’s voice? Or, maybe because you are so one with who you are from within the need is not there for companionship because you’re content and satisfied wherever you are.

As I watched this video, I was in awe how a cabin grew, a moss roof and fireplace emerged, doors were hung with wooden hinges. He created everything with the resources around him. Just watching made me realize the incredible ability and potential a human possesses.

In our culture, we are lured into believing we need this or we need that or else we can’t survive. What a different world compared to the wilderness Dick Proenneke lived in. He used his God-given talents and strengths fully carving out a life in harmony with the energy of Nature and the resources given him. Why are we any different in the lives we are living? We all can’t go to the wilderness but I believe we can let our own individual strengths come through in the same way everyday in our lives.

ALONE – what would our thoughts and feelings be in a remote wilderness for 35 years? I feel that peace and contentment. It’s learning to let it shine through every day in whatever we’re doing – right here, right now.

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Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Pat,

That's remarkable, isn't it?

It does remind us how some can (and do) survive on "the land".

I can imagine he grew to love the quiet, the sounds of nature, and the simplicity of his life.

Can you imagine how much change he saw in the world after being away from it for 35 years?

The story is a great reminder of how little we actually need to survive.

Pat said...

Barbara - it is amazing how this man lived in peace and harmony living off the land and connecting with the outside world periodically as they brought in supplies.

If you watch the PBS documentary "Alone in the Wilderness" you'll get a better idea on how resourceful and talented he is in how he created and built the things he needed.

I was impressed.

Merelyme said...

I am thinking I would go a little stir crazy. I like the idea of having human life surrounding me. Maybe it is because I grew up in the city. Nonetheless it does seem romantic to think about.

Pat said...

Merelyme - thank you for stopping by and commenting.

You're right about wanting human life around. I think it takes someone who is ready for the challenge like he was and willing to take it to the next level in exploring what this life is all about. I think he discovered the key to life's purpose at least for himself.

By the way, I stopped by your site Merely Me's Multiple Synchronicities (and sclerosis) and poked around a little.

I like what you have to say and I especially like the design of your new site where you do your writing. It's reflective and expresses your journey similar to what I'm working on.

Hope you come back and visit again now that we've made this connection to share and help each other on this life's path.


Stephen Hopson said...


I watched the Youtube video with fascination. As I was admiring the scenery and witnessing him build a cabin, it made me wonder about things we take for granted - like how did he wash his clothes?

A click on the link you provided revealed that he received supplies from a bush pilot so he did have some human contact, right? Or did I misread that?

I think I would go stir crazy myself as I need human beings around me. But this story does show how little we need to survive. Amazing!

Pat said...

Stephen - I'm sorry you weren't able to view this via closed captioning. I trust you were still able to come away with some feeling and understanding of the character and resourceful of this man.

To me, I came away from this story appreciating what one human can do when their heart and soul calls out to them. Our culture screams everything opposite of it.

It was amazing how he continued to live so efficiently in such a remote area with very little.

You're right. He did have supplies brought in to him from the bush pilot, Babe Alsworth. How often, I don't know. It probably depended on the weather. So, he did have human contact and he left to visit his family on occasion.

Not having human contact could drive you stir crazy but after awhile I wonder what else replaces that need. Is it communion with Spirit and how wonderful would that be? What he really alone?

I guess we'd have to experience it like Dick did to understand. Not many of us are willing to take that challenge.

Thanks for your warm thoughts. It's good to have you share. I love your feedback.


JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, You said...

I am amazed. 35 years..

I am actually learning how to be alone right now. I have grown to love aloneness - and to think at one point I didnt think I could survive it.

My thoughts are still plenty and I am still learning to quiet the mind some.
Its true - society has us thinking we NEED many things..but thats not the actual case

And to be one like that.. completely satisfied with whats at hand

I suppose I have aways to go but I can at least imagine it being a beautiful thing (as opposed to so horrified)

Beautiful writing Pat.. it's been a while but I havent forgotten ya! :)

(( hugs ))

Pat said...

JEMi - so glad to have you back. I appreciate what you said on what you're learning how to be alone.

I'm proud of you and how you've met the challenge of being alone not having a choice.

Unlike you and Dick, I've never been out on my own these 60 years of my life. My life lessons have come more in the form of learning to connect and be with others.

I can imagine how sweet the oneness would feel and I could get comfortable with the quiet moments. I catch glimpses of it at times and could stay there.

You're an inspiration to me in what you're learning and in your strength and courage.

I'm happy to have you as my friend.