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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Solitude lacks the bravado one might expect from such a tale, and Kull’s honesty allows the writing to flow far beyond the territory navigated by typical egotistical adventurers. These have been rough days psychospiritually,’ he writes after one particularly trying set of storms. It’s painful to feel I’m failing. When I leave here, I shouldn’t say much to anyone about this year.’ Thankfully, he changed his mind and published his moving story.”
There are echoes of Jack London here. Echoes of Thoreau, too....Very few of us will ever travel to the tip of Chile, let alone try to camp out there alone for a year. But what Bob really is writing about is a spiritual challenge as close as our own heartbeats.”
David Crumm, ReadTheSpirit.com
Bob Kull has done something relatively rare in the modern world: He has made a retreat/journey/pilgrimage that suits his own need and desire. He has learned essential lessons, and like a good spiritual adventurer, he is letting us in on the lessons he learned. Although his adventure is fascinating, it is his inner discoveries that appeal to me. It is worth everything for him to say that he is not a hero and his adventure is not heroic. That is just what we desperately need today: nonheroic adventures. This is an amazing story, worth reading and being inspired by. Bob is like a modern shaman, going out and coming back. And readers can take a good portion of Bob’s experience into themselves and be changed by it.”
Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Dark Nights of the Soul
Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes opens the door, admitting the reader into the society of one man’s soul. A visit is well worth the while.”
American Psychological Association Review of Books
Though grittier and more masculine than Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, it has something of the same appeal.”
The Vancouver Sun
For his Ph.D. dissertation, Kull built a cabin in the Patagonian wilderness with the intention of studying the effect of deep wilderness solitude on a human being, and this account chronicles the tortures and gifts of a year spent in near-total isolation. Kull intersperses methodological and contextual chapters between the journal's month-by-month entries, and while these chapters are informative (describing a 'tradition' of solitaries and hermits, surveys of the various cultural understandings of solitude), they do little to alleviate the sound of one man worrying. Only when the author refrains from taking his mental, emotional and spiritual temperature, writing instead about his physical explorations and observations of the surrounding area, does the narrative achieves a sense of spaciousness and relief. Kull writes that he wants to encourage others... to welcome the darkness, difficulty, and fear, but it is when he himself does this that the resultant journal entries become relaxed, expansive and enlightening. He studies ducks that defend territory outside his cabin, tracks the slow movements of limpets and explores pristine inlets and a glacier; these episodes and the accompanying insights, however, may arrive too late for some readers. (Oct.)
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