Being Alone – Craig Harper

Selamat pagi, semuanya! Gimana semalem? Tidur nyenyak? 😀 Hopefully! Btw semalem saya menyelami tulisan Craig Harper tentang hakekat jati diri dan kesendirian. Saya yakin semua orang di dunia familiar dengan perasaan ini. Feel free to scroll and read the entire post. It’s well written 😀 Link asli tulisannya bisa diakses disini.

One of my favourite movies of the last decade was ‘Into the Wild’ starring the (then) newcomer, Emile Hirsch. I loved, loved, loved this movie. It evoked such emotion and stimulated so much thought that I pondered it for weeks. It was like food for my brain. The movie (based on a true story) is confronting, fascinating and incredibly engaging. Geeze, I sound like a film reviewer. Sorry. Anyway, I went to see it not knowing anything about the story and not having any expectations.

In short, it is the story of a young guy trying to find a level of identity, purpose, meaning and enlightenment beyond his background, his experiences and the expectations of those in his world. With little preparation and without informing a single person, he walks away from his life and heads into the wild. What follows is an engrossing journey on many levels: geographically, physically, sociologically, psychologically, spiritually and developmentally. Well, that was my take on it anyway. Yours may have been different.

It you haven’t seen the movie, go rent it. You’ll thank me.

What I found fascinating was the decision this young college graduate made to turn his back on the comfort, security and familiarity of his middle class suburban existence, family, social relationships and privileges to head off into the great unknown by himself. I won’t ruin the story for those who haven’t seen the film but let’s just say that he spent considerable time in total isolation in the wilds (and I mean wilds) of Alaska.

I have since wondered how I would fare in such a situation. How any of us would. Sure, the wild animals, the lack of food, the snow, the sub-zero temperatures and the lack of internet might be something of a challenge for me, but I think with the right preparation and training I could deal with all that stuff. For a while anyway. I think the biggest challenge in dealing with that kind of isolated reality would be the social, emotional and psychological issues. How on earth would the attention-seeking only child fare with no audience, no hugs, no interesting conversations and zero human interaction? Would I become weirder or more enlightened? Calmer or more anxious? Would I find myself or lose myself?

To be honest, I actually like being alone. At times, I even crave it. Although, I suspect it’s easier to deal with solitude when, subconsciously, you know you always have the option of company. However, there was a time when I hated extended periods of solitude. It made me uncomfortable. And the fact that it made me uncomfortable (emotionally), made me uncomfortable (psychologically). If you know what I mean. In other words, I hated the fact that I was (on some level) dependant on being around a person or group of people in order to feel comfortable, content and happy.

While I recognised and appreciated the value of intimate and social relationships (of course), I didn’t want to live in a place (emotionally and psychologically) where I was (totally) dependant on any person for my happiness. In that paradigm I was simply giving my power away to people, situations and circumstances. I determined that my happiness, self-esteem and security would work best from the inside-out and not the other way around. Of course, friends and family would always play an important part in my life but I arrived at a point where it became apparent that, before I could add real value or joy to any personal relationship, I needed to be complete, happy and balanced on my own.

There’s a big difference between wanting somebody to be part of my world and not being able to function without that person. As there is between looking forward to the time you might fall in love (whenever and wherever that may be) and desperately looking for a partner. It’s clear that some people just ‘need’ to be in a relationship – any relationship. And this is where many of the ugly I-can’t-be-on-my-own problems make themselves known.

I have met many people who just can’t be single. Even for a week. In their (self-created) world, any relationship is better than no relationship. Their life is a blur of (average to terrible) relationships because the thought of being alone terrifies them. If only they would allow themselves the time and space to get to know who they are beyond their history of dysfunctional relationships, they might actually discover that they’re good enough all by themselves. Which, ironically, is exactly when they’ll become more attractive to a potential partner.

It’s important for us to be content, secure and complete on our own before we can even begin to be truly happy, functional and emotionally healthy in any intimate relationship. Otherwise we simply drag our emotional crap into the situation.

Yes, we are (among other things) social creatures and yes, personal relationships can enhance, uplift and even heal. However, they can also be destructive if they are built on an unhealthy foundation. Wanting, loving and appreciating a person is healthy. Not being able to function without that person’s attention, approval, permission and company – not so healthy!

When I wrote the first draft of Fattitude I went away for three weeks by myself. I spent the entire time in total (social) isolation. I didn’t see one friend, family member or acquaintance in that time and made a point of not talking on the phone. I ate every meal alone. Trained alone. Wrote alone. I didn’t have one (meaningful) conversation in that time. It was cathartic. I purposely sought the solitude and the silence.

I took an opportunity to step out of my chaotic, loud, busy world and into an environment of calm, consciousness and listening. I tuned in to what my tired body, my heart and my inner child had to tell me. I consciously turned down the volume on the cerebral chaos that was my over-thinking mind. The first three days of silence and solitude nearly killed me. It was about as comfortable as a circumcision.

I imagine.

By the time the last three days of my little sabbatical rolled around, I didn’t want to step back into my normal life. So much did I love my time out. So much did I learn about me. So much did I change.

We don’t need to be alone (literally) to feel very alone. We’ve all been in a crowded place and felt totally alone. Neither do we need to trek to Alaska to discover who we are beyond the noise, beyond our insecurities, beyond our unhealthy relationships and beyond the fear of being alone.

But sometimes, the thing we fear is the thing we need. Sometimes what we need is to be alone. ##


4 comments on “Being Alone – Craig Harper

  1. “I determined that my happiness, self-esteem and security would work best from the inside-out and not the other way around. ”

    Keren banget sih tulisan Craig Harper. Apakah dia menerbitkan buku? Saya baru saja dapet ilmu “bahagia dan kepercayaan diri itu harus dari dalam diri” bukan dari faktor luar, seperti persetujuan orang lain. Setelah setua ini. Andaikan tau dari dulu, kan gak repot merasa bingung terdorong arus apa kata orang. Buntut-buntutnya cuma depresi, apakah ini yang betul-betul aku mau atau aku lakukan karena disuruh orang lain?

    “So much did I love my time out. So much did I learn about me. So much did I change.”

    Betul sekali, kalau kita bergerak terus, tanpa menyediakan waktu introspeksi dan meditasi, semuanya terasa tanpa makna, bukan? Tapi saya perhatikan ada juga orang yang takut berhenti bergerak, takut berpikir. Mungkin dia takut menemukan sesuatu yang mungkin gak dia sukai.

    Cari ah DVD-nya. “Into the Wild” ya… Catet…

  2. “….Setelah setua ini. Andaikan tau dari dulu, kan gak repot merasa bingung terdorong arus apa kata orang..”

    Kan bu Andin seumuran ama Hirosue Ryoko(chan) tuh, jadi belum tua lah. Masih imut. Kaya marmut. Lah? he3. (^_^)v

    Selamat hunting filmnya bu. Saya juga belum nonton. Tapi yang “Into the Wild” ya, bukan yang “Wild Things” ato “Wild Animals” ato wild-wild yang laen. LOL.


  3. “many people who just CAN”T be SINGLE. (i do… can’t image! now i’m part of SINGLE people! the positive thing is I can go around the world to find the best one… but i’m wondering if I could pass through my days being lonely)

    Even for a week. In their (self-created) world,ANY RELATIONSHIP IS BETTER THAN NO RELATIONSHIP (I was thinking this is my way, but now i change my mind, being single is better than I drag myself to the hell). Their life is a blur of (average to terrible) relationships because the thought of being alone terrifies them.

    overall, Like this posting!!!

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