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Monday, September 04, 2006

Isolation as Personal Development

In the article "Getting Lost...Isolation is the Answer", the author questions why people feel the "need" to "get away from it all", and arrives to the conclusion that "it is conveying a desire for privacy, isolation, and possibly quiet solitude". The benefits to the individual include;
· Regulating the "access of others to oneself or group". This is of prime importance given the degree of sensory overload experienced in modern society.
· The feeling of "cognitive freedom" as manefest by the ability to "govern oneself and make decisions based upon ones own opinions and desires".
· An "emotional release"; in modern society control of ones emotions is generally regarded as desirable, but during times of extreme emotional stress this may result in neglecting the fundamental need of human expression.

Morgan goes on to state that "the reasons that one desires isiolation from others or society in general are important. These desires are actually the beginning of a process. First, the desire, then the physical removal, and lastly the regulation of privacy through the use of isolation." Morgan then identifies several relevant aspects including the "visual aspect", the "social aspect", and perhaps most importantly, the "confrontation of the self by the self". Emphasis on the self as a source of regeneration becomes central to the theme of the article, with the supporting argument of balance in ones life. Modern man may often report feelings of loneliness even while surrounded by people, but often the experience of finding fulfillment with oneself is lacking.

I chose this article as a source of opportunity facing leisure professionals in the future. Several factors make this extremely relevant. First of all, population density is increasing at an alarming rate. Rarely does a week go by where the news doesn't present topics related to the population growth. Everything from our natural resources and economics to technology is related to the increase in population. As interaction via technology increases...oftentimes with a decrease in actual physical contact...and the ordinary citizen experiences a perpetual sequence of "time stacking" where several activities are simultaneously undertaken at once, the need to "unwind" becomes a void without an avenue of fulfillment. Leisure professionals have recognized this to some extent, resulting in wilderness expeditions and other such activities. However, few of these are available to the majority of the population due to economic, physical, time or other constraints. Oftentimes, these are also conducted in a large group format.

Historically, inner fulfillment and growth has occured in solitude. Not to be confused with loneliness or isolation, solitude stimulates contemplation, creativity, and inner expression. In many religions, leaders have been lead to the desert as a means of renewal, rites of manhood have included periods of isolation, etc., yet modern man, lacking reference points to guide his(her) way through the process, have become unfamiliar and uncomfortable with being with oneself. Personally, I believe this is one explanation with self reported boredom...many people do not know how to contentedly exist with themselves! Again, with the "greying of America" and the corresponding widowhood experienced by the elderly, this again becomes a challenge to leisure professionals. It is not enough to plan an activity or two that may be taken advantage of by a client when a daily void exists! As Individualization increases in the planning phase, a more comprehensive view regarding healthy solitude should be included in the role of the leisure professional.


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