The Great Indifference is a perspective which yields an understanding of the true nature of the universe. It’s a place of clear thought, and relentless truth. The way there is never easy, never marked and can only be reached in solitude, and when the only chance of return is under the power of one’s own volition. What you find there may be worth the journey, even if you alone can understand or appreciate the prize.
There is no path to The Great Indifference, for followers must always lose the way. Strike out at once along the direction of your first inclination, and your own route will soon be discovered. Note what you find, or do not, as discovery alone is its own satisfaction. And whatever you later relate to others will fall like alien words upon ears plugged and deafened by fraternity, solidarity, and the warm comfort of common society. Only your fellow travelers in wildness might understand, though their own solitary venture may insulate their ears to whatever vain utterances you elect to voice.
I recommend this way to those who are ready to lose, prepared to be wrong, and desirous of truth ahead of comfort, peace or immortality. Come this way for the sake of virtue, for a sound mind, an even temper, a restful heart, and at last, an honest death; an end without hope of reward, reawakening, or revelation; a fixed point of terminus punctuated upon the tail end of eternity which is everything after the end of one’s living.
The vista of The Great Indifference will direct your gaze to your bruised, sore and bleeding feet. The instruments of your arrival in that august place. The pain will grow intense with your notice. A gratifying reality. How sweet the moment of awakening, when the uncaring, corpse-like gaze of reality makes precious the breath of this moment, and the next, without thought for any breath beyond, which is only a wishful, potential vapor; nor the breathes already consumed, which have dispersed to mingle with the universal atoms, to never again return orbit round our fleeting mortal constitution.
I’d tell you the way to The Great Indifference if I truly thought I could. Though if you go where I told you it was found then the telling would guarantee its absence. Go instead on your own, by your own motive force, along a way only you can see, alone and accepting of your solitude, aware you may never come back, and if you do, that you may never find words to adequately convey what you truly saw.
When I talk about Going Alone folks tend to think I’m referring to hiking and camping all by one’s self. That’s partially right. But mostly I’m referring to a mental endeavor to seek after and develop life principals without the reinforcing comfort of consensus. This doesn’t require thinking up the ideas oneself, but instead using reason to discern if a proposition is true and fits with the reality of the world around us. That’s Going Alone. It’s only coincidence that being alone in very wild places is an excellent forum for rendering truth from the abundance of comforting propositions and stories we tell one another to keep back the dark. When you’re alone in the dark there’s nowhere the truth can hide.
Emily and I lingered at the beach tonight until it was nearly dark. Just before we left a middle-aged man arrived limping badly and wearing nothing more than a swimsuit and a beach towel around his neck. He deposited the towel on a rock and limped with difficulty straight into the sea. Once in the cold water and free of his bad leg he began swimming powerfully out to sea, diving under a few large waves before making it clear of the surf. We watched him swim straight and direct, further and further, as the night got darker and darker. We saw him swim past a family of dolphin passing far beyond the last rocks, in water more than fifty feet deep. The man never veered his course or turned either up or down the coast, but kept straight for open ocean, swimming hard and fast. He must have been more than a quarter mile out when darkness overtook our efforts to follow. My last sight of the man was a single swing of his arm rising above the now black sea. I noticed the street lights were on as Emily and I made our way back to the motorcycle. And I wondered if these would guide the man back to shore when he’d had enough of his solo nighttime winter ocean swim.