What would lead a person to choose to live alone for a year on a small, remote island off the coast of southern Chile? How would one even go about planning the enormous logistics of such a stay? What is it like to truly notice how, as humans, we are constantly shifting from a sense of isolation into the experience of freedom and belonging? What was most challenging about basically disappearing into the wilderness, and living in solitude for a full year. With total candor, Robert Kull shares the pains and joys of such an adventure. Besides facing the elements, he had to face his inner demons. He says, “I’d love to be a heroic figure, man against nature kind of thing. But that is not my story. My story is going out and try to move beyond that, and become part of the non-human world and part of myself. But I can’t pull it off because my wilderness journal is just full of whining. It would be wonderful and joyful, and I’d be giving thanks for being there, and then the pain would come crashing in. And, instead of having any equanimity, I’d just be moaning and whining. That was the thing I was facing about myself that I didn’t like. There was not much of a sense of nobility much of the time around it.” (hosted by Michael Toms)
Robert Kull, Ph.D. has spent years wandering North and South America working as a scuba instructor, wilderness guide, construction worker, dishwasher, truck driver, bartender, painter, fire fighter, and professor. He began undergraduate studies at age 40 and now holds a doctorate from the University of British Columbia. In 2001-2002 he lived in wilderness solitude on a small, remote island off the coast of southern Chile.
He’s the author of:
- Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes: A Year Alone in the Patagonia Wilderness (New World Library 2008)
To learn more about the work of Robert Kull go to bobkull.org.
Topics Explored in This Dialogue
- What are the benefits of solitude
- How does one plan for all contingencies on a remote island
- How a cat became Kull’s nemesis
- How death and the impermanence of life becomes an ally
- How does one re-integrate back into society
- How one can surrender to things as they absolutely are in the moment
Host: Michael Toms Interview Date: 11/10/2008 Program Number: 3288