Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Solitude or loneliness?

Amazing how hard it is to be by yourself. That was what I was thinking about when I took my first break whilst doing a motivational Arctic trip. Two nights out to give the brain a rest. I thought.
I have never had a problem being by myself. At home or traveling. But whilst sitting on my pulk, looking out over the magnificent surroundings of Grövelsjön, I realized being by yourself doesn’t mean your mind is by itself. Thoughts are constantly shooting around often on issues which cause concern. Either past times or future stuff. 99.99% of those thoughts will never turn out to be realistic. And when they come up, which they do for everyone, that is our monkey brain trained to do this, I realized I immediately pick up the phone to click around or do something else with my hands to keep those thoughts at bay.
The only time thoughts didn’t whirl around, was when I was slowly climbing up hills counting my steps. Or fully immersed in keeping the cold away, cooking, repairing the stove. And whilst meditating. I have realized that makes a difference, though hard when you are freezing your butt off.
The reason I am bringing this up is because the day before the journey I read about a young woman who wanted to ski from the North of Sweden to Grövelsjön. Which is the end of the southern mountain range. A trip called the White Ribbon (Vita Bandet). But not long into the journey she had what seemed serious issues with her mental health due to loneliness, missing her friends and family, finding being by herself very difficult. Whilst reading that I remembered that 95% of the people who have written to me throughout the years, mainly adventure cyclists to be, with great plans, had given up after 3 months into their journey.
Lesson for the adventurer-to-be?

Get out there by yourself in the wilderness for a few days, at least 5 nights out, and see if you can deal with being with yourself and your thoughts. If not, do something else.

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