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.
©2009 Robert Kull (P)2015 Robert Kull
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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!)
"A wonderful listening experience"
This audiobook brings an extraordinary story to life, a human story of self-immersion in one of the wildest places on earth. Listening made me feel like I was there.
"we could all use a vision quest."
most outdoor enthusiasts only dream of having a year of solitude in the wilderness. .however. .none of us know exactly how it would affect our psyche. robert kull had the will and the determination to give it a try. humble by nature this guy did what no one else has had the balls to do...what an inspiration! !
"Prepare to be amazed"
Stays with you
It's real and raw, but funny and relatable- even in its extremes. We may not all take the trip that Bob took to investigate the questions churning inside us, but if you are drawn to this book, you probably have those questions too. And if you have those questions too, then his experience will touch you, and touch off your own journey. It's not another man-vs.- nature story of conquer and record-breaking, but you sure can't help but be in awe of the man's courage, skill set, and sheer will and fortitude to envision, plan, execute, and complete his year in solitude. But even more than that is a deeper respect for the fact that it *wasn't* about conquer and man-vs.-nature, but about a human, being in, and with, nature.
There were times when I had to take a break. He's sharing with you his inner process, and sometimes it gets to be too much. Which makes it all the more amazing to think about... he was in it- for a year! No pausing for him. But I was always pulled back to it and the deeper I got into the story, the less breaks I took and listened to the final four hours on an international trip. Looking down from 35,000 feet, it was the perfect accompaniment.
This is a good book to listen to, as a first-person true story, narrated by the author. Again, I had read the book in paperback, and it didn't land the same way as listening to Bob tell his own story and lived experience. The weaving of straight up story-telling with beautiful descriptive observation, and inner process narration embedded in academic investigation and research mixes up to a truly winning result.
"Very Powerful Very Moving Very Touching"
Yes. In hopes that they would be open to listening to what it really takes to wake up. That there is no magic thing out there but its all inside. It is a moment to moment choice. We all are very much alike filled with fears and doubts but through looking inward we start to see clearly and start to heal.
When Bob described how much he missed Cat after leaving. How much he felt Cat was an important part of the entire experience.
Not sure. Had many.
For the most part. I did want to listen most of the time.
I love how this book had a day to day record of how our minds work. It clearly records how even if we are in solitude, the mind finds ways to distract from real feelings. It shows how we project ourselves out and how everything we come in contact with mirrors us. It shows how over time meditation which includes awareness of feelings , thoughts, body and all sense perceptions, starts to temper the reactions and deeply engrained mental formations that we all deal with. This is the only book I know of that describes a daily record of experiences of what all mystics have forever been trying to convey.
"Wisdom in Extreme"
Yes, you hear within this Audible recording all the “poetic attention” to nature and beautiful “lyrical writing” that makes Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extreme; A Year Alone in the Patagonia Wilderness so engaging. Some people easily underestimate the harsh conditions, both physical, mental and even spiritually that a solitary retreat entails. Criticizing may be easy but few of these critics are eager to step forward and try even a two-week or two-month retreat like this
Bob was brave enough to accept twelve months of meeting his own personal demons, and his dark side as well his strengths head first… and share it with us. Some of it is not a pretty sight but allowing this look inside makes for engrossing reading. We cheer and support when he triumphs over fears. We are saddened when his dark side overwhelms and he strikes out at the innocents present. We forgive him for his humanness and recognize that we too are human – not always so perfect as we would like.
But this is always a story or search and triumph, read by the author himself, in his own voice. The clarity and emotion comes through and it is an honor to be present for it.
Included in this book are interludes that some fell are out of place … such as “ “A Glance at Other Solitaries”, “Dancing in Hallowed Halls”, “ The Urge to Be Alone”. I felt that they gave us some welcomed relief from the dailyness of existence on a small windy island, while adding some valuable perspective to what we are witnessing, . Bob Kull has dropped small bread crumbs for many of us with his research and honest writing urging us to take them up and follow. I myself carried this volume in a backpack and later listened to the audio during my own twelve months in a solitary hut and benefited immensely. I could not have asked for a stronger or more encouraging companion.
I thank Bob for sharing this fearless path, for not hiding the hard parts and for making this exploration available to all those armchair travelers that are intrigued.
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