Maine Coast Semester students spend most of their hours in the thick of the Chewonki community. During solos, however, students take two days and two nights on Chewonki Neck to be all by themselves, quietly reflecting, reading, writing, drawing, observing the woods, water, and sky, or just catching up on their zzzzs. For most, this is the first time they’ve spent an extended time alone, outdoors, without a screen or anyone to talk to.
This year, high winds forced a delayed start to solos, but students got to their camping sites early Saturday morning and spent the weekend in the woods. Will, who hails from Marietta, Georgia, and the Westminster Schools, wrote this meditation on his experience.
The Wonders of Being Alone
“I wake up from a wonderful night of sleep to the cool gray light of morning at what I believe is about 7:00 a.m., but I don’t know for sure. I left my watch behind at the beginning of the weekend, along with many other things, such as books, computers, and basically anything I don’t absolutely need. It is, of course, solo weekend.
“I reluctantly squirm out of my sleeping bag, leaving the warmth and entering the cold late October air. As soon as I put on some layers to be comfortable, I walk over to the inlet from my site…I cross over to a small rock outcropping, which will be submerged at noon because there is a new moon today. I know this because of my Natural History class. While sitting here in pale light looking out at the water, I eat a five-course meal of crackers, SunButter, gorp, granola bars, and an apple.
“The idea of going out into the woods and not having any contact with any other human being for a weekend probably would cause some people to raise their eyebrows, but there is something beautiful about this experience that cannot be experienced in any other way. I am allowed just to sit and think without any distractions other than the occasional annoying squirrel trying to steal my food. This time just for myself has allowed me to look back on the semester so far and think about how incredible it has been.
“To simply be here on my solo is a wonderful thing that, for reasons unknown to me, brings a peace of mind like no other…[and] puts me in a childlike state of wonder and imagination that seems to get buried in the craziness of our lives. The act of just getting away from it all is my favorite part about this solo experience.
“Sitting on a rock with my belly full of crackers, I remember that I only have a few more hours until returning to campus. I smile. I know how lucky I am…”
Will, Westminster Schools, GA