Aloneby Alberto Mella Humans are a very powerful race. While other species face extinction we thrive. Damage to our planet and exaggerated consumption of resources notwithstanding, we make it happen. I live in Florida and enjoy doing local tourism and I can only stand in awe at what natives did to survive. And as much as I despise the callousness with which the colonialist exterminated the local population I am also awed at how they survived and established colonies that were the building blocks to the society in which we now live. It is impressive what a group of humans can achieve, not only on the specific time in history being occupied but on the collective non-stopping timeline that is our history.
A few months ago I came across a reality show like no other, History channel’s survival-themed “Alone”. Now, before you get ahead of me let me tell you how this show is different. The premise of “Alone” is to take survival experts and send them to almost virgin territory into an island west of Washington State. Each man stands alone (hence the name) with no camera crew. They carry their own camera and limited survival equipment. In previous survival shows the individual or group of people are in the area for a few days. These guys were placed on this island, miles apart from each other with the goal to outlast the other men. Their only line to the outside was a satellite phone that they were to use to “tap out” of the competition. The first few days were fascinating to watch as the competitors tried finding the basic needs of shelter, water, food, and fire. On those first days, that was the dynamic that moved the narrative of the show, that and safety. This place is crawling with bear, cougar and wolf vying for the same resources as the contestants.
This place is crawling with bear, cougar and wolf vying for the same resources as the contestants.
After the first few weeks that initial battle was settled and only four men remained. Once all the physical needs were met, then the battle became strictly psychological. No longer were they competing against the next guy but with themselves. As one of them put it: “It’s just you, the creator and the creation.” As men, we pride ourselves in our strength, in our ability to be protectors and providers. But have you ever wondered; what if it’s only me? Sure, I can protect myself, and provide for myself, but we neglect to notice that there are needs that other humans provide for us. As seen through the struggle of these guys we take for granted that we draw strength from each other. And when the other guy is not around, we have to dig deep within ourselves and find a different strength somewhere within.
Once all the physical needs were met, then the battle became strictly psychological. No longer were they competing against the next guy but with themselves.
I’m an avid fan of meditation. Every culture has their own way to commune with the self. When you meditate you look at yourself from within, you know you and what you are capable of. To meditate you separate yourself physically and/or mentally from other people. When you are alone for some time every breath you take becomes an exercise in meditation. This exercise inevitably makes you discover something about yourself that changes you. These changes are painfully obvious on the last four contestants of the show. But as you follow the psychological, spiritual and metaphysical transformation of these guys, it is very difficult not to identify with one or all. These guys did not go into woods trying to find themselves, but they slammed into what they carried within. You will see them laugh, cry and go mad (for a while) and you will feel for them and wonder at the same time: what is inside me? I got to see that man is a social animal capable of fantastic feats as a group and a very complex being whose spiritual depth we have only begun to scratch the surface. I have only begun to scratch the surface of my own inner self. As we develop ourselves into the men we want to become let us find some time with ourselves to meditate and be Alone.
When you are alone for some time every breath you take becomes an exercise in meditation. This exercise inevitably makes you discover something about yourself that changes you.
Do you purposefully take time to be alone? Do you separate time to meditate or to be still?-Please share your answer in the comments section below-
Alberto Mella is an award-winning speaker characterized for his inspiring message, dynamic and humorous presentation style. Alberto is an Army veteran and has been a martial arts practitioner for the past three decades. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published on The Gentlemen's Brotherhood (Sept. 2015).