Where Do You Find Your "Waldeinsamkeit"?

show-and-tell

#1

There’s a German word, “waldeinsamkeit,” that Google Translate (yeah, I’m that guy) puts in English as “Solitude of the Forest.” It’s meant to describe a singular type of loneliness that is at once isolating, peaceful, and reflective. And having a spot where you can go and indulge in a little waldeinsamkeit of your own can be a rewarding experience for everyone. Now we want to hear about the most incredible places where you go to be alone.

While waldeinsamkeit traditionally implies a dense, quiet wood, the emotional experience can happen just about anywhere. Maybe it’s a meaningful hideaway in your city or town that you like to keep all to yourself, or maybe it’s a bustling public square where you allow yourself to be alone in a crowd. Personally, I sometimes like to head to a place near our office called Transmitter Park. It’s right on the East River, and has a terrific view of Manhattan just across the water. It’s gotten much more crowded in recent years, but I still go there and tune out the world, just watching the water and meditating on the endless possibility of the big city, or whatever’s on my mind. It helps me feel like I’m both in the middle of the teeming city around me, and blissfully apart from it. Wherever it is that you like to explore the wonders of solitude, we want to hear about them.

Tell us about your favorite place to be blissfully alone, and why that place is so perfect for your peaceful solitude, in the comments below. Be sure to tell us what it’s called and where it is, and we’ll share some of our favorite submissions in an upcoming article on Atlas Obscura! You don’t have to be alone, but sometimes a little waldeinsamkeit can help.

(Luis Del Río Camacho/Public Domain)


#2

This made me realize that I haven’t had a moment to myself outside the comfort of my home in a long time. I should remedy that soon.

There is, however, a particular place that I strongly associate with the sense of solitude and peace, even though it’s not a dense quiet wood. When I was 14, I went with my aunt’s family to a beach resort in one of the tiny islands from the clusters called “Pulau Seribu” (literally Thousand Islands), a few hours of ferry ride north of Jakarta. I was there to babysit my cousins. Our cabin was located not too far away from a tiny secluded part of the beach. I remember sitting there by myself a lot while my aunt’s family took a nap. Just sitting on the edge of the dock and watching the waves.

As I became an adult, my mind would replay that memory whenever I try to calm my anxiety.


#3

I’d love to go to lonely wild places like that, but fear of rape prevents me. It’s not a totally unrealistic fear. I can go with another person. Otherwise I confine myself to my own garden. Sad I know.


#4

In the wintertime, and without a car, I find solitude in my bedroom, with earplugs and my Kindle Paperwhite, or the Meditation music station on Prime Music / a YouTube guided meditation. Boring answer, but it’s an effective recharge for me. I enjoy laying in the darkness feeling like I’m suspended in nothingness; everything else ceases to exist.


#5

Have you considered taking up Brazilian jiu jitsu lessons or carrying a weapon to alleviate that fear? In 6 months or so you’ll feel more confident wherever you go, and BJJ is a great equalizer.


#6

On the shores of Lake Michigan. Walking down the beach or sitting on the dunes nestled between the tall endangered beach grass. A person can really lose themselves gazing into the horizon.


#7

I appreciate your willingness to assist, but let’s try and keep this thread about your places to be alone. Thank you!


#8

Oh, I have many such spots around Michigan and the Great Lakes, but you can pry their names and locations from my cold dead hands. :laughing:


#9

I go to Carl Schurz Park on the East River. Right at the top of Roosevelt Island there is a tiny light house. I sit on a bench, block out all the noise around me and focus on the light. It also allows me to feel a part of the big NYC while removing me from it for at least a little while. There is also a little know waterfall in the upper part of Central Park. It is rarely crowded and allows me to completely lose myself in nature for a bit.


#10

The Marian Trail at Mount Monadnock, NH… tranquil, beautiful; with sudden views for miles, and mossy faerie glens. And I didn’t see another soul for the entire six hours I spent hiking and quietly sitting.


#11

I went hiking by myself in the New Jersey Pine Barrens this past November. I’ve never been so perfectly and absolutely alone…even after hours of wandering, I could count the other hikers I saw on one hand. It was very cold and blindingly clear, and with the wind high, the only noise was the groaning and rushing of the pines. It was at once a lonely and ecstatic experience, and I spent the day feeling almost out of time, in a way that’s hard to describe.

A friend of mine describes meditation as an “emptying of the self” and that’s what it felt like, if you can be empty of yourself and at the same time, very aware of how loudly you’re breathing amid all that quiet!

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#12

My ultimate ‘Waldeinsamkeit’ is in the Adirondacks of northern NY. I grew up visiting every summer as a kid to see family since my dad grew up there. While there are plenty of bustling towns and lakefronts in the Adirondacks, we would go to a cabin tucked away on the western side. I loved walking through the woods, down to the lakefront at sunset. I’d just watch the sun set and the water still. As an adult, I’ve tried to go back every year, and it’s my go-to daydream when life’s a little too stressful.

I now live in Brussels and I try to bake in a ‘quick fix’ on my daily walk to work by walking through Parc Leopold - it has a lake in the center and I love watching the ducks & birds squawk, court, and tend to their little ones (in the Spring & Summer). I’m not alone but it gives a little bit of peace as my day is gearing up.


#13

There’s a place in central Minnesota known as “The Big Wood.” It has been isolated from the rest of the countryside for so long that the animals have started to become new subspecies. The local Red Squirrels are so different from the typical ones. On a friends property, a mile deep into the woods is a south facing hill covered in giant Sumac. Except for the trunks it is clear up to about 7 feet and than it is a extremely dense green canopy. All you can see for 100 yards in any direction are trunks and that green tent like cover. No matter how hot it gets it’s always 70 degrees. One can lie there for hours lost in thought or conversation or the best nap you ever had.


#14

The wonderful thing about living in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN) is all of the parks, both secluded and open, where one can of wonder and loose themselves. I particularly enjoy the parks that make it seem as though you are in the middle of nowhere. These are parks with narrow winding trails that remind me of adventures I had as a child. French Park, Big Willow Park, Medicine Lake, and Bunker Lake, all surrounded by city, but lovely places of solitude keep me sane.


#16

Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, Washington!


#17

I’ve found waldeinsamkeit in several places around the world, but I’ve found that one of my favorites is at Trail’s End Campground in northern Minnesota (at the end of the Gunflint Trail). It’s a quiet area surrounded by forest, rocks, and lakes that instantly makes me feel at home.


#19

It may sound out of place but my “Waldeinsamkeit” is not further than my small apartment. My “Waldeinsamkeit” is not a place actually. It is a time. It is the long hours of night staying up when everybody else is asleep. That’s how I sense my forest solitude. So an abnormal situation like staying up all night seems to offer a great advantage to me. My “Waldeinsamkeit”.


#20

I used to really enjoy the enormous solitude imparted by remote parts of of our National Parks and Forests…that is until about ten years ago when I read the first in a series of half a dozen books outlining the thousands of cases of normal waldeinsamkeit-loving Americans who vanish without a trace within their expansive boundaries. The shear number of disappearances and the eerily consistent circumstances of those disappearances is staggering and completely unexplained in every single circumstance…I haven’t enjoyed the woods ever since. I know get all my waldeinsamkeit from solo SCUBA dives on coral reefs throughout the Gulf Coast…https://youtu.be/rjDy2srebK8 [MISSING 411: The Documentary ]


#21

I have a few, all of which require real travel to reach. This is the first that comes to mind. Grand Falls, Arizona is maybe 30 miles outside Flagstaff (seen as the snowy peaks at the top center), on Navajo land. The range of colors, the directional influence of the river and canyon, and the horizon of varied possibilities combine with the anomaly of a tall waterfall in the desert to both stimulate and calm my mind.


#22

I am heading to the Barrens in May. Plan on hiking as many sections of the Batona Trail as is possible in a week. :slight_smile: