"When you're on your vision quest, we refer to that as being 'up on the hill,'" we were told.
We had a few "pep talks", or "prep talks", to get us mentally ready for being isolation for the three nights and days we were supposed to be in our vision quest spot.
We would leave Monday afternoon, after a "dust off" sweat lodge session, with everyone being in their spaces by 5pm. We would come back to camp just after sunrise on Thursday morning.
There would be a vow of silence with other people as we came out of the sweat lodge. No verbal communication.
Then we got into discussing the concept of time...
“Time exists in two ways up on the hill. Lightness and darkness,” Malcolm, the shaman I've worked with in Peru and have known for over four years, told us.
When the Sun was shining, it was lightness. Which we would get about 13 usable hours of, depending on where our hill spot was located. If you were tucked into brush and trees, you'd maybe get less. If you were in an open spot, you'd get more.
We could take a watch with us if we wanted. Even our mobile phones - though there was no data connection or cell connection - to keep track of precise time.
"It's the isolation that is probably the hardest," one person said.
I thought about that... The isolation, the darkness and lightness... The lack of books and internet... Those wouldn't be difficult for me.
"But could you spend that many days by yourself with no one else to talk to?" another person asked. "Long hours of daylight followed by long stretches of darkness... No one to hear you?"
Good point, I said. I live an active life on social media, sharing out my thoughts and things in my visual space. But if no one responded back... I honestly don't think I'd care.
"I barely tolerate people as it is," I joked.
But truthfully, I am an introvert. One who isn't shy - far from it. I've just rarely craved being around other people in an active and engaging way. I can only handle brief moments of it.
I have conversations with myself. I can imagine entire lifetimes in my mind, and know they aren't part of my current Universe. My imagination is active.
And believe it or not, my sharing of these things - despite what social media may lead one to believe - is minimal.
"I would spend days in Boston not speaking to other people except to order a glass of wine at a bar, or thank a sales person for helping me check out," I said.
I do most of my thought purging in isolation as it is.
So no, isolation wouldn't be a problem for me on up on the hill. And lightness and darkness didn't scare me.