Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Introverts unite! (From a distance)

lone hikerSome of us don’t have to be told to avoid cruise ships.

We don’t need to be advised to stay away from stadiums, subways, shopping malls, political rallies, airplanes, company picnics, drum circles or even the funerals of unpopular people. We have never heard of Purell and we do not spray our food with Lysol. Our “personal space” is roughly the size of Montana. We are faster than a speeding happy hour, more powerful than a mandatory committee meeting, able to ghost potential romantic partners in a single ghost. We can do a self-quarantine standing on our heads. We are the few, the proud, the perpetually socially distanced — the Introvert Writers of America.

We could have told you all along that human interaction was trouble. Why do you think we moved to the ADK to begin with, for the tent revivals? This is exactly why we freak out when we see more than three people on a mountain summit.

If everyone were a card carrying member of the IWA, the coronavirus would not stand a chance. It couldn’t have hopped from one human to another without cab fare. Six feet? That seems kind of hairy to us. Can we make it 15?

When we were teenagers, we even hated rock concerts with their excess of noise and human density (we can only report this now, because the social capital we accumulated as teenagers for going to see Aerosmith is no longer valid).

The IWA would only attend live sporting events out of a sense of duty. We remember the games less than we remember the horrid experience of walking up to the stadium amid throngs of people to whom we had not been introduced, including some who would actually BRUSH UP AGAINST US and then merrily bounce their way through the turnstiles, seemingly unaware of the atrocity that had just been perpetuated.

We typically do not like parties either, because people stand bruisingly close to us, and enthusiastically engage in spittle-drenched soliloquies about who’s their favorite actor in The Americans, what’s going to happen to the price of gasoline, or whom they saw last night at McDonald’s.

The ranks of the IWA do not need to be told not to shake hands. And hugging — when did that become a thing? We rarely even hugged our parents, and now every canned-herring salesman from Newport thinks that if you like Calvin and Hobbes too, then the bar of commonality required for full-frontal contact has been achieved.

Even more, the IWA remains suspicious of all groups, and largely adheres to the words of the late George Carlin, who said: “People are wonderful. I love individuals. I hate groups of people. I hate a group of people with a ‘common purpose.’ Cause pretty soon they have little hats. And armbands. And fight songs. And a list of people they’re going to visit at 3 a.m.”

So we observe with detached bemusement the hoopla over state and county directives to avoid crowded trailheads and to limit hiking groups to two close family members. Maybe, we would suggest, this is good advice to follow — not always of course, but sometimes — whether there is a pandemic bearing down on us or not. We in the IWA cannot tell you how  many times we have slowed down at a trailhead only to hit the gas and fishtail on down the road in a spray of gravel when we see three or more cars in the lot.

Yet the government, with reason, needs to remind us that we’re not supposed to hike in gangs, like the Sharks and the Jets snapping their fingers on Ore Bed Brook Trail and singing about a rumble. Got it. But we have always kind of felt that the natural state, inundated with humanity, ceases to be the natural state.

The IWA take on hiking — that is, to avoid crowds like the, well, plague — has taught us that on all but the busiest weekends there is solitude to be found. On any given day, from Port Henry to Old Forge, do you know how many cars are parked at a majority of Adirondack trailheads? The correct answer would be, “less than one.”

Hikers today seem to like a challenge, so perhaps we can make some use of these troubled times by creating the Empty Parking Lot Challenge. These unloved trails may not have that dazzling, selfie-worthy moment, but they will certainly be rich in flowers, mushrooms, birds, ferns, salamanders streams, trees, rocks and roots, all of which are fascinating when time is taken to notice them. Not every hike need be a forced march to a summit.

It does not have to be thought of as social distancing. It is merely the choice of taking the trail less traveled. Because, as any IWA member can attest, that can make all the difference.

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Tim Rowland

Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.


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29 Responses

  1. sjk.vang@verizon.net says:

    Innocent people are dying. Shame on you and the Adirondack Almanack for publishing this post. It’s not funny.

    • Dan Plumley says:

      Tim did not “make fun of or funny” of the terrible death or the dying in this latest pandemic. He didn’t speak about the facts or the tragedy of it all. He went off topic and addressed only the”social distancing” response and how he, as an “introvert,” sees that as of recognition value for so many in our global cultures who never liked crowds in any shape or form – especially in wild, or wilderness so-called outdoor settings. He bears no shame whatsoever for his “tongue in cheek” article – especially when after 6 weeks and more for me of social distancing and sheltering in place, Tim gave us all a chance to take in a different viewpoint away from the pain and loss and fear – and to see some new hope in a smile, a laugh and a new perspective from a good angle.

      Yes, many innocent people are dying – happens each and every day of our human lives – be it just recently from COVID-19, or long-time from cancers, or car accidents, or drugs, or opioids, or war, or murder, gang violence, stupidity risky behaviors, etc., etc. or … name your poison.

      But Tim did not attack “innocent people,” and certainly not “innocent” victims of the current pandemic crisis.

      He spoke truth to the false power of death and even the flaws of government response and brought his own wry, cynical humility to make us think outside of this awful trauma and see new answers, consider new hope.

      There is a time for tears.

      There is at the same time a time for new, different perspective that takes us – no mater how briefly – away from those tears and our lost, stolen breathlessness.

      Across a hazardous bridge to a new look and much needed hope.

      Some of us are geared to do just that.

      • adkDreamer says:

        It is more likely than not that folks will react to social distancing in a variety of ways with the article above being one way and sjk.vang@verizon.net‘s reaction to it another way. sjk.vang@verizon.net is entitled to share his/her opinion without being bashed for it especially in these times it is just not helpful or compassionate. So therefore: Melius est petere fontem quam sectari rivulos

        I get the article, pretty clever and funny. Being stuck in a cabin for weeks on end can have undetermined outcomes, even funny ones like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywqvK2XE4bM

        • joeadirondack@gmail.com says:

          Thank you adk dreamer.

        • Boreas says:

          Wouldn’t he author and AA also have the same right to publish the article without being “bashed” for it? Be it right or wrong, “bashing” is now part of public discourse. Intolerance is both insidious and contagious. I don’t know if there is a Latin law maxim for that.

          I liked the article. I am the poster child for introversion.

  2. Dan Plumley says:

    Tim:

    Love it! Your truthful cynicism (some mislabel it “humor”) is a Godsend for me and you nailed our whole modern “diorama” lifestyle again. We are where true wilderness and remote, solitude experiences – reconnecting to our Earth species origins origins – living in community with our neighbors (a few humans, but many more bears, fisher, deer, birds, owls and other critters) – many with deep North Country family heritage (mine late 1700’s) (including still – Thank fully some od the far older Humans – far too few for certain – Mohawk, Oneida, Abenaki and other Native Peoples) truly began – again. Of course we are social mammals, but up here, we have for the most loved our connection to our wild mountains and forests as well as our relatively independent lifestyle and personal connections – experience with the whole, hopefully, relatively intact ecosystem and region. And occasionally gathering with our amazing, talented and hard-working neighbors once a week or almost far less as church, recreational, informational or government actions for good or bad – or crisis events needed to bring us together to get things done in the crush. Other than that, we’re all on our own path trajectories experiencing the challenge and amazing joys, hard-work, periodic sorrows and life and living in these are, most special mountains. Based on your writing, I may have decided that I’ve been IWA all along, and just mistook my true calling. I think I’m ready to be a dues paying member, but I’ll be one of the shy ones in the back of the annual meeting believe it or not and just go off with my dog Ranger and dig a bear den under an old, fallen white pine, or some crash course – south driven Canadian glacier boulder (eratic) and revel in the solitude!

    Social distancing?! When I was university trained in true wild land conservation … it was known as wilderness management. Jeesh, been 40 years – and its too a a damn pandemic to finally get the State to listen up!

    Separate yourself people — head into the the wilderness and wild forest with one or two friends – or alone if you are experienced (let someone know where you are headed and your expected return) and experience the true Earth connection that us introverts really can connect with!

    Keep writing all through the pandemic Tim and then some! We need it! Badly!

  3. Dan Plumley says:

    Tim:

    Love it! Your truthful cynicism (some mislabel it “humor”) is a Godsend for me and you nailed our whole modern “diorama” lifestyle again. We are where true wilderness and remote, solitude experiences – reconnecting to our Earth species origins origins – living in community with our neighbors (a few humans, but many more bears, fisher, deer, birds, owls and other critters) – many with deep North Country family heritage (mine late 1700’s) (including still – Thank fully some of the far older Native to Adirondack Humans – far too few for certain – Mohawk, Oneida, Abenaki and other Native Peoples) truly began – again. Of course we are social mammals, but up here, we have for the most loved our connection to our wild mountains and forests as well as our relatively independent lifestyle and personal connections – experience with the whole, hopefully, relatively intact ecosystem and region. And occasionally gathering with our amazing, talented and hard-working neighbors once a week or almost far less as church, recreational, informational or government actions for good or bad – or crisis events needed to bring us together to get things done in the crush. Other than that, we’re all on our own path trajectories experiencing the challenge and amazing joys, hard-work, periodic sorrows and life and living in these our, most special mountains. Based on your writing, I may have decided that I’ve been IWA all along, and just mistook my true calling. I think I’m ready to be a dues paying member, but I’ll be one of the shy ones in the back of the annual meeting believe it or not and just go off with my dog Ranger and dig a bear den under an old, fallen white pine, or some crash course – south driven Canadian glacier boulder (eratic) and revel in the solitude!

    Social distancing?! When I was university trained in true wild land conservation … it was known as wilderness management. Jeesh, been 40 years – and its thanks to a damn Global pandemic to finally get the State to listen up abut spreading out — and not yarding up – people in the wilderness and the Eastern High Peaks!

    Separate yourself people — by miles, not just 6 feet – and head into the the wilderness and wild forest with one or two friends – or alone if you are experienced (let someone know where you are headed and your expected return) and experience the true Earth connection that us closet – introverts really can connect with!

    Keep writing all through the pandemic Tim and then some! We need it! Badly!

  4. Bob. Meyer says:

    I like your aesthetic!

  5. Steven Antinozzi says:

    Tim, awesome job. There are so many, “quietly” with you. SRA

  6. lori brand says:

    Simply brilliant! Thanks for this !

  7. Jodi says:

    Perfect, that’s me too a tee! Being a life long member of the Introvert Gang, which is myself and my current dog, I really enjoyed this article.

  8. Tim says:

    Here, here!

  9. Charlie S says:

    sjk.vang@verizon.net says: “Innocent people are dying. Shame on you and the Adirondack Almanack for publishing this post. It’s not funny.”

    I just read your post Tim and “get it” as some of us evidently never will. Very nice and I most certainly relate. I always say to people who say ‘I’m bored,’ there’s just no reason ever to be bored…if you read or write or do artwork, or take photos. Too many of us are doing things wrong evidently. Bored! Never me! I am so fortunate to have avenues to release, or escape, whatever the case may be…creative outlets, and as you say Tim,
    “It does not have to be thought of as social distancing. It is merely the choice of taking the trail less traveled. Because, as any IWA member can attest, that can make all the difference.”

    I get it! Yes sir! To be stepped away from one’s emptiness…is the only way to realize that there even is an emptiness. I was just telling my friend David, just ten minutes ago,,,, now is the best time to write, to put down one’s thoughts, to create, to be an introvert, which is actually not such a bad thing. Indeed I went to buy art supplies recently for my little girl to find they were out of supplies. A good sign! Thank you very much for this piece. It is so “right on!”

    • Suzanne says:

      Sorry Vang was upset. Perhaps she/he has experienced a personal tragedy and is grieving. If so, condolences. This is a hard time. I find nothing offensive about this article, but a pleasant breath of fresh air. As a solitary person from childhood, I relate. BTW, if you can’t find art supplies for your little girl, check out Blick on line. They have great discounts and ship quickly, usually within a week. I would prefer my local art supply store, but they are closed for the duration, as “non-essential.” Tell that to the kid is cooped indoors who wants to draw or paint!

  10. Randy Fredlund says:

    Tim, Here is a link to one of my own in the same vein, which is not nearly as nice as your post. Please do not let the Fun Police (people without a sense of humor) keep you from publishing funny stuff.

    https://medium.com/one-minute-wit/social-distancing-thats-sop-c26767d6f5e1

    I’ll save you the click. Here’s the text.

    We Techies SCOFF at your puny attempts. Social distancing? We’ve been perfecting the technique for years! No, wait, not just years, our entire lives!

    Push the donuts and coffee under the door and just let us do our jobs. Nothing has changed!

    Where is Mr. Popular now? I’ll tell you where. He’s in the hospital, fighting for his life, because he always glad-hands everyone he meets. And he’s there with the people who think that face-to-face meetings are the key to progress.

    Those of us with ravaged faces, lacking in the social graces, prudently remained at home, inventing technology enabling cell phones (and computers). Where would you be now, if not for us? Reading a paper book, that’s where. By candlelight.

    WE ARE THE FUTURE! Those of us who put electrical tape over selfie cameras are the new generation (selfie video is wasteful of bandwidth for those of us not part of the glitterati, who are all sick). We can work effectively with minimal human contact. We invented email so we don’t have to talk directly to anyone, and so we can keep working without inhaling what you sneeze.

    Learn to code! Read schematics! Close the door!

    Join us. Stay healthy the Techie way!

  11. Ben says:

    Thanks, Tim. I needed that! Many of us could use an escape right now given what has transpired in the last three months with little hope in sight.

  12. Wendy Taylor says:

    This is not just true of introverted writers but probably all introverts! Loved the article.

  13. Audrey Hyson says:

    I plan to start the empty parking lot challenge right away. It’s the best idea i’ve heard in ages.

  14. Sandor says:

    Tim you some times rub me the wrong way and get under my thick skin.But this is genius,poetic and true.The 3 stooges,B- kitty cat,boreasing and oddball can’t reply to this.We in the ADKs should welcome the chance to speak freely and at the same time not be villified,corrected,labeled and threatened by the left wing- demo delusional philosophy. SAY your speak and enjoy the conversation.Stop correcting/ blaming/reacting and playing gospel.Thank you ADK ALM for this venue.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      “left wing- demo delusional philosophy”…? What the heck are you talking about? Nonsense!.. I’m a liberal/lefty all the way and I really like this idea!
      Go take you political nonsense elsewhere.

      • Boreas says:

        Bob,

        Watch out or you will get a nickname too!

        • Bob Meyer says:

          LOL: Bring it on folks…. and find those loneliest trails and places.

          • Balian the Cat says:

            Beyond being honored as one of the Stooges, I have been laughing all day – a post that rants and foams and blathers with name calling and rancor, ends with a lament about being vilified, labeled, and threatened?! Classic pea-brained delusion if I have ever seen it 🙂

  15. Cheryl Thompson says:

    As someone who has always appreciated the idea of personal space, I thank you!

  16. Charlie S says:

    Suzanne says: “Sorry Vang was upset. Perhaps she/he has experienced a personal tragedy and is grieving. If so, condolences.”

    It has nothing to do with that Suzanne. It has more to do with a narrow field of vision!

  17. Ginny Alfano says:

    Thank you for your well written article, Tim. I am a total introvert and love living in the middle of nowhere. I always have since I was old enough to make my own choices. Nobody bothers me and vice versa. My husband is the same way. It’s a peaceful way to live. I’m never bored. There are always projects waiting for completion. So basically for us, nothing has changed. Being an introvert has its rewards.

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