Italian hermit living alone on an island: Self-isolation is the ultimate journey

With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting most of us off into varying degrees of isolation, one Italian man has been joyfully embracing it for the last 30 years.

And while a lot of us are dreading the thought of being isolated for a month—possibly even more—Mauro Morandi has been living it, happily ensconced in his own beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea.

At 80, Morandi is protected within the borders of La Maddalena Archipelago National Park, a semi-rugged, idyllic island near the coast of Sardinia, where he is still the only inhabitant. But he’s not totally shut off from the real world.

With a wi-fi connection,  a smartphone, and even an Instagram account with more than 39,000 followers, he is still keeping tabs on what’s happening “outside.”

His perspective on isolation could be an eye-opener for us all. With the uncertainty of the coming months, it’s good to know that we can make something beautiful out of these dark times.

Let’s get to know what Morandi has to say about isolation and how we can benefit from it.

The tranquil simplicity of isolation

For Morandi, isolation was a voluntary decision. He didn’t need a pandemic to push him to it. And with three decades worth of time alone with his own thoughts, he discovered that self-isolation is the ultimate journey.

After being disenchanted by modern life and consumerism, he decided to run away and stumbled upon paradise all to himself.

One of the most beautiful lessons he’s learned is one of living life in simplicity. You’d think his daily routine mundane, but he found meaning by sticking to the basics.

Every night, he sleeps in his old stone cottage, surrounded by night-sounds replete of cars honking in the distance, but that of water lapping softly on the shore. Every morning, he is woken by the natural light of a stunning sunrise. He likes to explore the cliffs of his home island and talks to birds from his kitchen window at breakfast.

It is a life where the word “busy” doesn’t apply. And for Morandi, there’s nothing to complain about.

As he says:

“For now I’ve got everything I need. There’s electricity, even if it needs a makeover, and running water, and an extra small stove for heating.”

Finding the meaning in silence

So what can Morandi say about isolation? For him, it’s the ultimate journey of finding yourself.

He explains:

“When I arrived here, I freed myself from external conditioning, but the real problem was to free myself from internal conditioning. That is more difficult to recognize. Then little by little, you recognize it in the solitude, and you ask yourself, ‘Who are you?’ and you start the search.

“I realized that within ourselves there is a monster. We have to recognize it, accept it and live with it. If you don’t recognize and accept it, it will always dominate you. I realized that there is no end; the journey itself will make you grow inside and connect you with your meaning. My meaning is to communicate my love for nature. It is what I strive to do.”

Isn’t that a beautiful thought? Perhaps we may not get as close as to Morandi’s level of self-awareness and fulfillment. But if we stay isolated in the weeks to come, we might as well use the time to look deep into ourselves and try to discover who we really are.

And then, when this is all over, we could proudly say we used our time wisely.

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”

– Hunter S. Thompson


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