For the last four days my brother has gone into isolation. On Wednesday, while I was eating hot wings and singeing my mustache , my brother went off into the woods for a four day fast. No food or water for the better half of a week. No one to talk to, no one but himself in the elements.
About 5 years ago I read a short essay by Aldus Huxley about the quiet of the desert. The essay inspired me to take a three day vow of silence, which is a task in itself but somehow I managed to do this in public and with two kids who couldn’t read. (Most of my communication was done by writing.) Through this experience I identified the times in my life when I spoke when it wasn’t necessary. Of course my brothers experience is different than this. This is a spiritual right of passage that is followed by a traditional native sweat. The only other thing I have done that comes close to this is by taking what Terrence McKenna describes as a heroic dose of magic mushrooms, by myself, on the first full moon of the Chinese new year. My brother has gone and taken this spiritual journey to a different level.
I think it is an easy retreat to take mind altering substances be it alcohol or LSD, but I think its a very different kind of courage to go out and face yourself by yourself. In the electronic age this is a rarity. Some people are never alone even when there is no one else in the room. This, I think, can serve to strengthen peoples fear of themselves. Fear of what they might find if they were ever alone, if even for a single night. My brother has done what many indigenous cultures have done. He’s returned to the earth to find the spirit within himself. I’ve heard stories of self induced natural hallucinations on spiritual journeys like these and I hope he found what he was looking for/needed while he was out there.
To my bearded brother and his courage and tenacity. Welcome back to “civilization.”