Years after losing his lower right leg in a motorcycle crash, Robert Kull traveled to a remote island in Patagonia's coastal wilderness with equipment and supplies to live alone for a year. He sought to explore the effects of deep solitude on the body and mind and to find the spiritual answers he'd been seeking all his life. With only a cat and his thoughts as companions, he wrestled with inner storms while the wild forces of nature raged around him. The physical challenges were immense, but the struggles of mind and spirit pushed him even further.
Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes is the diary of Kull's tumultuous year. Chronicling a life distilled to its essence, Solitude is also a philosophical meditation on the tensions between nature and technology, isolation and society. With humor and brutal honesty, Kull explores the pain and longing we typically avoid in our frantically busy lives as well as the peace and wonder that arise once we strip away our distractions. He describes the enormous Patagonia wilderness with poetic attention, transporting the reader directly into both his inner and outer experiences.
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Struggles, bliss, dark Presence, and Cat.
Hearing Bob's experiences told in his own voice made the story come alive.
This is a true story performed by the author.
How interesting that you eventually realized you had been taking the wind personally, as a dark entity intent on screwing with your plans. I like how you eventually found peace in the rain and lessons from the wind.
Bob was my instructor in a Masters level ‘Systems Thinking’ course. After experiencing him as an instructor I was excited to read about the journey that helped make him into not only the person he is, but also an exemplary teacher. Below is the feedback I emailed to him after I first read “Solitude” a few years ago.
“Thank you for writing the book. I really enjoyed your struggles, your moments of bliss, your honesty about Cat, and your enigmatic description of the dark Presence you felt those 2-3 times. Your impressions of other writers and their own experiences with solitude helped ground my understanding of the issues you grappled with in a larger field of shared experiences. Your realization that you couldn't be 'fixed' by a year of hard personal work and meditation was really interesting...I think many of us believe that if we try hard enough we can achieve some kind of personal perfection and fix those annoying neuroses/biases/anxieties/fears/etc. that make us who we are (for better and for worse). Though it is a nice goal, achieving perfection probably isn't why we're here - do you agree?
I'm really glad I waited until I had the time to sample your experiences in small nibbles instead of tearing off the chapters in huge bites. It was worth taking the time”.
Since writing this a few years ago, I have been lucky enough to work with Bob as an Instructional Designer on his courses. He is deeply committed to helping his students recognize, then break through, limiting modes of thinking. Watching him demonstrate this attitude is what made me initially want to read his book and now that his book is available in audio, I’m enjoying the story again, especially hearing it told in his own voice.
Bob still goes on regular “solitude adventures” to keep himself in tune with what he feels is important. His photography highlights his writing and can be found on http://bobkullphotography.weebly.com/
Extraordinary story of an inspired journey
I read this book when it was first published. I love the audio version even more. Kull's year alone on an isolated island in Patagonia comes alive in his narration. He shares with authentic vulnerability his triumphs, his tragedies, his disappointments, and his spiritual growth. If you yearn for such a transformative adventure, try living vicariously through Kull's recounting of a 21st-century Walden. (Your experience will be much more comfortable! No freezing rain, relentless winds, precarious boat trips, spoiled food stores, or endless collections of firewood!)
- Donna Mosher