Can I Call This A Solo If I'm Not Alone?
We questers are only responsible for one thing while out
in the desert on our own: to report in to our buddy circle once a day,
and if our buddy has not reported in, to try to find out if he/she is
Before we set out on the first day of our solo, we find out which other quester has a solo spot nearest our own. That person will be our buddy. Because of how the various solo locations were situated, I ended up with two buddies. I love that!
The buddies are to find a spot where they will then make a circle, usually out of stones. In a three buddy system, one of us is the morning buddy (me), one is the afternoon buddy and one is the evening buddy. Every morning, I would walk to the buddy circle, take out the rock left there by the evening person, and put in my rock.
Worst case scenario, if I were to put my rock in at 8:00 a.m., then promptly fall off of a cliff, someone would begin to worry about me somewhere between 30 and 32 hours later.
Happily eating my "dinner" of nuts and dried fruit, enjoying the beautiful, peaceful evening on my second day of solitude, I turned my head to see Karen, one of my buddies, walking toward me. Strange. But I instinctively waved. Honoring the space I was in during this sacred solo, instead of talking with me, she presented me with a note that said our other buddy hadn't gone to the buddy circle that day and Karen didn't know where his solo spot was located.
Shit! Here is what the mind does in these types of circumstances (and I'm sure you know this well): "He may have fallen off a cliff! I bet he just forgot to go to the circle. He could be injured and he's been lying somewhere for hours. Nah... I'm sure he forgot. But what if he didn't forget and he needs help? If we have to round up a search party, we don't have many hours until dark."
Karen and I set out to Joe's solo spot - a perch high on a cliff. Joe is very tall. I'm not. I tried, but I couldn't climb up to his spot. But I could throw rocks up there, and nothing signaled sign of life. What to do?
We wrote a note and posted it on a dead little plant at the bottom of the cliff. "We are worried about you because you didn't go to the buddy circle today. If you don't come to find Carol at her solo spot by 7 p.m., we will come back to see if you have returned. If not, we'll head up to base camp."
Oh, man. I had to dig through my pack for my watch. I DO NOT DO TIME ON A SOLO! But I did do time on this solo. At 7:00, I found Karen and we went back to the cliff. The note was still there. We headed up to base camp. Worry. Know he forgot. Worry. Know he forgot.
We were almost to base camp when Joe ran up to us. Hallelujah! Whoo hooo! He's okay. Tears.
We all walked back together. Very few words, since *ahem* this was a time of solitude and silence (unless we chose to talk with little 4-leggeds or the stars or the winds). The few words uttered were mostly made of "I'm sorry. I spaced it."
And for the first time in my life, I realized how okay everything is even when someone appears to cause an unnecessary inconvenience. No need for apologies (even though they are sweet to hear). No one did anything to me. My solo presented this awesome opportunity to just love. Things happen. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we give up our valued alone time because we care about each other. I felt so much compassion for our human-ness. It's all perfectly beautiful.
Whatever appears during a solo is a teacher (true all of the time, but we are sometimes more profoundly aware when we've slowed down this much). One of my best teachings while I was alone came through not being alone.
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