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In the wilderness, life is stripped of distractions. It is quiet. The topography demands discipline, simplicity, and fierce attention. Solitude in the wilderness makes irrelevant all the people-pleasing habits that have become interwoven into your personality. “What happens when a ‘gifted child’ finds himself in a wilderness where he’s stripped of any way of proving his worth?” asks Belden Lane in Backpacking with the Saints.

“What does he do when there’s nothing he can do, when there’s no audience to applaud his performance, when he faces a cold, silent indifference, if not hostility? His world falls to pieces. The soul hungry for approval starves in a desert like that. It reduces the compulsive achiever to something little, utterly ordinary. Only then is he able to be loved.” Solitude in the wilderness changes your experience of time. Normal life happens in ordinary time—the commute to work / do the dishes sense of time. But the wilderness marks time in eons; nothing changes quickly.

David Brooks, The Second Mountain, Random House Publishing Group, 2019, p.40.

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