Sometimes people get tired of their lives. I believe at some point, we all come to that. Call it as you wish, midlife crisis, existential crisis, psychological crisis… Albert Einstein used to say that crises were an opportunity to progress.
And he was a genius: “Creativity is born from anguish as the day is born from the dark night. It is in the crisis that inventiveness, discoveries, and great strategies are born… Without a crisis, there are no merits. It is in the crisis where the best of each emerges”.
And people deal with crises in so many different ways. Sometimes going to therapy is the best solution, other people prefer to travel, others to move out and change houses/places… Others find isolation as the best answer. And it is okay. After all, who are we to judge?
This is the case of Christopher Knight, a man who decided to get away from all that has been his life and disappeared into the forest where he lived for 27 years without speaking to anyone.
The story of a person who lived in the woods within the forests near Rome, Maine was an urban myth for the locals. People used to share stories about indirect encounters with this mythical wood person. They would talk about the mysterious disappearance of objects.
The legend spread as the years passed by. But nobody really believed it was true. Until 2013 the legend became true when Christopher was found wandering in the forest. After confessing he had committed several small but numerous thefts in order to survive, the police arrested him and he was sentenced to seven months in prison.
He did steal small things, the minimum to survive so as not to attract too much attention. He would occasionally break into their homes and steal food, beers, books, etc. When the police asked him if he had been in touch with anyone at all, he answered: “only once”. Back in the 1990s, he stumbled upon another man on a path in the woods and they exchanged a light greeting. That was all his communication in twenty-seven years.
Christopher Knight lived completely alone and isolated from social interaction for twenty-seven years in the forests of Maine. How come nobody ever looked for him? Well, it turns out his parents never reported him missing. It seems that although their relationship was good, it wasn’t cloying.
Christopher managed to survive all these years’ winters by heating his campsite with a propane stove. In the coldest winters, he would wake up at night and walk around his campsite to keep him warm. He never built a fire, so as not to attract attention.
Many days he thought he would die of cold or hunger. Those days he chose to meditate. He decided to continue shaving and keeping himself clean.
When the police asked Christopher what he did, he replied that at first, he read books but that his main activity was “doing nothing.” And this never bored him. In all the years he had been in the forest, he told police, he did not get sick once. There was no one to infect him.
“I examined myself. Loneliness gives an increase in something valuable … my perception. But when I applied my increased perception myself, I lost my identity. There was no audience, there was no one for whom to mount the play … To put it romantically, I was completely free,” he said.
Well, this man clearly took social distancing to a whole new level.