Everyone feels alone at one time or another in their lives. Maybe it’s because you moved to a new town, you just went through a breakup, or you’re taking a moment to yourself in your room. No matter the reason, feeling alone can sometimes be terribly isolating. However, very few have felt true isolation the way Richard Proenneke did.
Just A Man And His Cabin
Richard Proenneke was a skilled carpenter and photography hobbyist with a love for nature great enough to send him deep into the Alaskan mountains for almost 30 years. Near the shore of Twin Lakes alongside bears, caribou, and birds, Richard lived out the majority of his retired life.
The beginning of his time in in the mountains was spent building the cabin that would become his new home. Some of the tools, all simple and handheld, he brought from home and fitted his own carved handles to them once he arrived. Other tools were made entirely from wood. The cabin, a simple 11 by 15 feet abode, was built cleverly and beautifully and the entire process was documented in his journals and film that he brought from home.
Daily life for Richard consisted of hunting, fishing, and observing the surrounding animals. In addition to his cabin, by the end of his time in the beautiful Alaskan mountains, he also built a cache (a raised storage shed to keep his food and supplies safe and away from critters), a woodshed for his tools and woodpile, and an outhouse.
Surviving The Many Years Alone
Aside from the fact that Richard would have to be a master hunter, fisher, and carpenter in order to survive so many years in the harsh Alaskan wilderness, many are also left to wonder how he could stand to be so alone for so long.
As he shared with those who wrote books and documentaries about his life, Richard actually enjoyed being alone. He believed that there was no one happier and freer than he was. He also felt that the beautiful animals who accompanied him in the mountains helped him to feel less alone. And as to all the work that he had to perform just to survive, he admitted that it was pretty tough, but that he had never felt better than when he was doing it.
Making Your Own Adventure
So what can you take from this man’s daring adventure? Maybe you are also an experienced carpenter and mountain man, in which case, you might follow Richard’s example quite literally and decide to live out a third of your life in the beautiful solitude that nature has to offer.
But if you’re part of the majority of us that aren’t as capable in those areas, there still is some value to be found in Richard’s story.
- Find the beauty in being alone. It’s true that feeling alone can be heartbreaking, but there is also strength in it. There is something beautiful about being left to yourself, getting lost in your own thoughts, and finding who you really are deep inside.
- Really connect with nature. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of today’s world with all the emails, propaganda, and social media. But spending even 10 minutes away from all of that, listening to the birds and watching the breeze run through the trees can give you just the grounding you need to keep going.
- Value hard work. The 21st century has made life almost too easy. A couple taps on your phone and you can have food delivered right to your door. But there’s nothing more fulfilling than putting your heart and soul into something, working harder than you ever have, and creating something truly amazing.
Richard Proenneke’s story is a unique one, and his experience may not be for everyone. But Richard’s fondness of being alone, love for nature, and willingness to work hard are all things that may brighten up your life in the way that his mountain cabin lit up his.