[image linked – Andy Molloy/Staff Photographer]
had read about Christopher in 2013..
adding page via Doug‘s share on guardian post in 2017 (skimmed most of it as it was rehashing the story.. adding the part on silence Doug was referring to)
Knight said that he couldn’t accurately describe what it felt like to spend such an immense period of time alone.
Silence does not translate into words.
“It’s complicated,” he said. “Solitude bestows an increase in something valuable. I can’t dismiss that idea. Solitude increased my perception. But here’s the tricky thing: when I applied my increased perception to myself, *I lost my identity. There was no audience, no one to perform for. There was no need to define myself. I became irrelevant.”
*sounds lovely.. sounds crazywise ish.. sounds like our souls begging for ps in the open ness.. to be able to hide.. and yet still be out there… thinking gershenfeld sel is our way.. for 7bn – privacy.. via..idiosyncratic jargon..via ..self-talk as data
The dividing line between himself and the forest, Knight said, seemed to dissolve. His isolation felt more like a communion. “My desires dropped away. I didn’t long for anything. I didn’t even have a name. To put it romantically, I was completely free.”
Virtually everyone who has tried to describe deep solitude has said something similar. “I am nothing; I see all,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. Lord Byron called it “the feeling infinite”. The American mystic Thomas Merton said that “the true solitary does not seek himself, but loses himself”.
free dom ness
For those who do not choose to be alone – like prisoners and hostages – a loss of one’s socially created identity can be terrifying, a plunge into madness.
Psychologists call it “ontological insecurity”, losing your grip on who you are. Edward Abbey, in Desert Solitaire, a chronicle of two six‑month stints as a ranger in Utah’s Arches National Monument, said that being solitary for a long time “means risking everything human”. Knight, meanwhile, didn’t even keep a mirror in his camp. He was never once bored. He wasn’t sure, he said, that he even understood the concept of boredom. “I was never lonely,” Knight added. He was attuned to the completeness of his own presence rather than to the absence of others.
“If you like solitude,” he said, “you are never alone.”
Knight did, eventually permit one journalist to meet him, and over the course of nine one-hour visits in the jail, the hermit shared his life story – about how he was able to survive, and what it felt like to live alone for so long.
And once, when he was in an especially introspective mood, Knight seemed willing, despite his typical aversion to dispensing wisdom, to share more of what he gleaned while alone. Was there, the journalist asked him, some grand insight revealed to him in the wild?
Knight sat quietly but he eventually arrived at a reply.
“Get enough sleep,” he said.
He set his jaw in a way that conveyed he wouldn’t be saying any more. This was what he’d learned. It was, without question, the truth.
This is an adapted extract of The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel, published by Simon and Schuster
“The most important thing that Christopher has told me since October 2013 is that he has learned in this court that he can live the life he wants to live without breaking the law,” Mills said Monday.
Christopher Thomas Knight (born 7 December 1965), also known as the North Pond Hermit, is a former hermit who lived almost without human contact for 27 years in the woods in Maine. He survived by committing approximately 1,000 burglaries against houses in the area, or approximately 40 per year. Apart from the fear and notoriety his many burglaries created in the local area, Knight’s unusual life also attracted widespread international media reports upon his capture.
Knight entered the woods in 1986, aged 20, without saying goodbye to anyone, and was captured during a burglary in 2013. His only human contact in that time was one exchange of a trivial greeting with a hiker.
Knight’s parents apparently never reported him missing to the police. In an interview, Knight said, “I had good parents”, and, “We’re not emotionally bleeding all over each other. We’re not touchy-feely. Stoicism is expected.” The family’s next-door neighbor for 14 years hasn’t exchanged more than a few words with Knight’s mother.
Many have expressed admiration for Knight’s outdoor survival skills, especially in the harsh Maine winters. Some also expressed doubt, believing instead that Knight broke into and took refuge in vacant cabins.
Knight was sentenced to seven months in jail on 28 October 2013, of which he had already served all but a week while awaiting sentencing. In addition to the jail sentence, Knight paid $1,500 in restitution to victims, completed a Co-Occurring Disorders Court Program (designed for people with substance abuse problems and mental health disorders), and completed three years of probation.
Knight has described deep-felt ethical misgivings about the burglaries committed, saying that stealing is wrong. Even the prosecutor said that a longer sentence would have been cruel. Judge Nancy Mills believes it is very unlikely that Knight will re-offend. After release, Knight met with the judge every week, avoided alcohol, and secured a job with his brother.
solitary – crazy – we have so much wisdom and insight (and death) from people experiencing stillness from solitary .. perhaps we try still\ness for all.. from the get go. as the day. everyday. as equity.