There’s a certain amount of loneliness involved in working and living outdoors. Often there are no companions for hours at a time or even days. There’s no chit-chat and no office grapevine. There’s no water cooler to gather by and waste some time. There’s no one to offer you a pat on the back when needed and no one to complain about or to. While most people might say they’d be glad to be away from all of that, when push comes to shove, they find themselves at a loss.
There’s a freedom to working an outdoor job of your own creation, a joyous freedom, but freedom often brings loneliness. Many people who come from an office environment to an outdoor environment for work quickly become confused because that freedom is often exhausting. They start out happy and glad to be free of the pettiness of office politics, but they soon find themselves to be strangers in a strange land.
An outdoor life does not depend overmuch on a clock. There’s no punching in or punching out. There are no assigned duties and no inboxes. There are no meetings and no team-playing. There are no excuses for illness and no one to cover your work when you’re not around. So, first and foremost, a self-made outdoor job involves responsibility. That is quickly followed by discipline, because if there’s no one to insist on appearances and deadlines, it can be very easy to forget about them or simply ignore them.
|The Maine lobsterman is the quintessential self-made outdoor worker.|
Then there is the overlord to deal with. That would be Mother Nature. There are no roofs to keep out the rain and snow. There’s no heating and no air conditioning. There are no supply cabinets and no delivery boys. There are no delis and no stores. There are no creature comforts, often no toilets, and certainly plenty of bugs and animals. This is the reality of day-to-day working and living in the outdoors.
These things sound simple enough to tackle for any adult, but in actuality they are not so simple if you are not used to them. That’s where the loneliness steps in. Ultimately, there’s no one to blame for anything, and once that really sinks in, the responsibility can seem crippling. Because if there’s no one to blame for anything--a boss, a coworker, a rival company--everything falls squarely on your shoulders. And there’s no one to talk to about it, either.
The cure for loneliness is simple: Hard work. Actually, hard work cures just about any ailment, I’ve noticed. Working diligently on your own and doing your best might not bring you friends, but it certainly brings a sense of accomplishment and peace at the end of the day. There is an enormous satisfaction in setting your own course and carving your own future. A job well done of your own volition is worth all the creature comforts in the world. There’s often no one to share your sense of accomplishment or peace with, but peace does not require a witness.
[This statue is on Bailey Island and is dedicated to all Maine fishermen who have devoted their lives to the sea.]