Friendship requires leisure

Friendship requires leisure. This fine cultural form cannot survive without the time and leisure that are its lifeblood. I love the East Indian custom of standing next to someone in silence, probably just a step in back of him or her, if you wish to make friends. Silence, waiting, time, respect for another's space–these are the elements of friendship.

Living in the wilderness frees us from the tyranny of time

I stood there dumbfounded by the vast silence. . . And, for one of the many times in my life, thinking, "Robert, what in the name of heaven have you gotten yourself into?" For the first few days, time weighed very heavy on my hands. I found myself constantly looking at my watch. I was suppose to look for fires fifteen minutes out of every hour and phone in a weather report each day at noon, but otherwise I could do as I wished. By the third day, however, something changed. Time was no longer an entity that pressured me. Time became like the flow of a river, and gradually I came into accord with the rest of nature. I was never again bored or lonely that summer. . . Living in the wilderness frees us from the tyranny of time and reveals how different existence was for our ancestors.

The difference between loneliness and solitude

It was from my experience in alternating work at the Red Cross and forest service that I began to learn the difference between loneliness and solitude. I now believe that loneliness occurs when our lives are somehow missing one-half of a pair of opposites — being and doing. We can be very busy and surrounded by people yet still feel intense loneliness because our lives are dominated by "doing;" there is insufficient time for attentive solitude with our thoughts and feeling. When your life is filled with too much doing, the only cure for loneliness is a strong dose of solitude, a form of solitude that is meditative and open to your inner self.