Since my departure from Buffalo Peak Ranch in late November 2013, I have shared the story of my time there with both those familiar to me and those who remain strangers. A few share my passion for solitude, for they have experienced it too. Some nod their heads, knowing, deep inside that time off-line, time alone would bring them insight and joy which cannot be found by any other means. But most are simply horrified, shaken by the very concept of being alone.
To those I ask “Why? What scares you?”
“You mean, without internet?” I nod. “I love my iPhone too much,” laughing, “and could not live without Facebook.”
I wait, as the joke subsides, they continue, “It would be good for me to have that time alone. I know it would be good for me. I just, … I just don’t know if I am ready for that, to be alone … with me.” This final statement is often accompanied by fidgeting, an uneasy glance at empty hands, or reach for the mobile phone again.
I have received this honest response more than a few times now, enough to recognize that it likely sits behind the verbalized and non-verbal fear of being disconnected, of living off-line. To be alone is not the real concern. To be with oneself, that is the real challenge, for in that place, we must face the reality of who we are when no one else is around.