Solitude of the Mind
Today I’m getting ready for an adventure. For this adventure, I’ll be sleeping in the same bed, eating the same foods, and wearing the same clothes. This is an adventure of the mind, into solitude and reality.
The World of Language
As modern people, we live in a world that’s literally made of language. Most of what we think about and do only exists in our minds collectively; it’s not dirt, or a painful cut, or sweat, or the sensation of food going down our throats. It’s jobs, it’s relationships, it’s money, it’s the future.
The latter list are things that don’t actually “exist” — they are constructs and concepts. We say we “have” a job, but where is it? Can you hold it? Can you smell it? No, because it’s actually just a complicated understanding between you, your employer, and whoever else it’s relevant to. Relationships are similar: just a shared understanding between people, a concept that stops existing as soon as we do.
So, the question is, what is real? What really matters? Are those things the same things?
In the interest of discovering the answers, I’m spending tomorrow and the day after eschewing language. I will not speak, I will not read, I will not listen to people speaking, I will not follow written instructions. I will attempt to even quiet my internal dialog, so I can experience complete silence. In short, I will completely cut myself off from all language.
My hope is to reconnect to some authentic state of being. I want to cut off language, the primary source of all this “unreal reality,” and experience a state of just existing. Feeling the ground on my feet, and look at the grass around my house.
I’m trying to keep this simple. I can’t read any food labels or use the oven or microwave (numbers are words too!), so I have to stock enough grabbable food to last for the two days. I’m letting everyone who might try to contact me know what’s going on so they don’t worry or disrupt the experiment. I have clothes for a couple days, and the necessary groceries one needs, so I should be free to lay on the floor, or walk through a field without interruption.
This is going to be difficult for me in particular because I spend so much time reading, writing, and thinking analytically. It’s how I spend my days, and the reality is that in an idle moment I will almost always grab a book or fill the time with something “productive.” That’s what makes this experiment all the more important: as a person who has internalized this conceptual planet, I need to gain a wider perspective on what is real.
It’s also why I am only planning two days for this time. I’m a little scared by the prospect of even that period of time, since it’s such a wide departure from my normal routine. Being alone with one’s self is a daunting prospect. Still, I feel it’s doable, and if it’s valuable I can see doing a longer stint in the future, in which I actually leave society for a remote place, to be sure I am really isolated.
Obviously, I won’t be writing a journal during my experience. I’m also not entirely sure I’ll be able to verbalize whatever non-verbal insights I gain, but after it’s all over, I’ll certainly try.
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