How I Almost Became a Hermit
It Could Happen to Anyone
“Oh sure,” you say. “Anyone can say they’re a hermit but that doesn’t mean they’re doomed to be one.”
I’m pretty sure I was just like you. I had a good job, an attractive wife, and a great sense of physical hygiene – but that all changed after I returned to the world of the unemployed. People think that becoming a hermit is something that is a conscious decision. They think there are recruiters from a great hermitting network looking for prime candidates who have begun to grow their facial hair in new and interesting ways and keep their toenail clippings in a jar. But that’s not what happens. Becoming a hermit is a condition you can slip into quite easily.
We who have experienced the condition of “hermitage” know that it takes work to let things go. It takes strength of character to release their strength of character. You need to know that what you’re doing lies at the very dead end of the social norm and you will carry the mark with you until either you return to civilization or until wolves discover your body and begin to eat the eyes out of your head.
Types of Hermit
Religious sponsored home
Chores and prayer
Do what you want. Bathing optional.
No home. Fleas.
Lots of free time
No going back
Being a hermit is 33% mental, 33% physical, 33% circumstantial, and 1% meat byproduct. (Well, you have to do something with the animal lips.)
You will be the one shunning the rest of humanity. You will be the one who goes boldly where few people have gone before. Madness is no longer something to be feared rather it is the warm womb we crawl into as we look to make our new universal world view.
I know what you’re asking. You’re asking, “Is there some way I can be a hermit, too?”
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Sure, let me show you the ropes. Just understand, my language can be somewhat course – we of the Non-Brotherhood of Hermits usually don’t get a chance to do the talking thing; we just let the voices in our heads become our guides. There’s a lot of inner counsel without a career. There’s work to be done where there are no real goals. It’s a full time position with no real tangible rewards.
We are an equal opportunity non-employer.
Just remember, hermitage can happen to anyone. You can go looking for the cave or the cave can come looking for you. You can either accept it or work to remain with the rest of humanity with all of their clothes, soap, and processed food.
Hermit Quiz: Do you have what it takes?view quiz statistics
Zen and the Art of Seclusion
You should know that many people confuse hermitage as a holy monastic life of contemplation toward a universal communion with the Divine. It’s not that at all. When you become a hermit, either through your choice or through circumstances, the mental changes that happen within you have almost always nothing to do with God, the universe, or the number 42.
You will be choosing to walk the road less traveled. It’s the one paved on the chartreus bricks with the imaginary midgets singing about dead witches.
We are not necessarily looking for a shamanic path – although some of us have claimed to have found some clarity at the end of the rainbow, which may have been an incidental offshoot rather than a planned onramp. If you’re looking to get into this life or have had the life thrust upon you, you should recognize the proper signs that you’re now on that path.
Being a hermit means:
- Shunning all humanity
- Leaving the trifles of civilization behind
- Bathing and hygiene are entirely optional
- Bugs, lichen, and moss are on the menu
- Your “hole in the wall” is literally a hole in a wall.
The good news is that you no longer need to worry about climbing the corporate ladder anytime soon and the rat race is only important only if you’re planning on hunting rats for food (because, if that’s the case, you want the slower fatter rat).
Most of us who have lived in modern civilization have a problem shunning humanity. It’s hard to do without the company of human companionship. Normal conversations happen when one person talks and another listens. This may not be a problem if you are one of those self-absorbed pricks who like to talk to hear themselves talk. Those people have a head start on being hermits. Not only do they find having another person in the conversation unnecessary, to them, having someone interrupt them in the middle of their incessant droning can be annoying. Should you be one of those people, the world of hermitage was made for you. You can talk all you want to without being interrupted. While what you’ll be spouting won’t be on the level of a Shakespearian soliloquy, it will be a long stream of uninterrupted consciousness.
Or babbling… it’s entirely up to you. Chances are, whatever was said really wasn’t worth listening to. So everyone wins.
Others who like to have another person as a sanity sounding board will miss the company of others. Why? Well, other people are good psychological barometers when you say things like “Are the mushrooms growing between my toes edible?” or “not many people realize that mustard can be its own meal”. If you have real friends, they’ll chime in with something contradictory like “are you sure the mushrooms you ate were still good?”
People have their uses.
Those of you who did not seek to shun humanity, rather humanity deserted you, will have a harder time of things. You will still feel the need to hear someone ask, “Do you smell something ripe?” or “Did you misplace your comb?” When those people leave your life, the natural tendency to go with a beard in the style Yasser Arafat and wearing the same set of clothes for a month is a given.
No Money. No Job. No Home.
We like to imagine hermits out in the middle of a desert, living in a cave, eating earthworms and sporting a full hipster beard. Those are the celebrities. There are many who have gone to monasteries to have their living accommodations sponsored by a world religion under the proviso that they spend their time thinking about God.
Those of us that have had hermitage thrust upon them may have had to seek a secular and more bohemian path. The media and uninitiated might call us hobos, tramps, or the homeless – but we know better. We’re the ones who have decided that if the world does not need us, that we don’t need them. After all, why buy soap when a hot dog costs the same price? Why keep a home when the bank wants all that money for a mortgage? Who needs a job when no sane person will hire you?
All these things are the trappings of civilization and people. The deserts are full of hermits because cities have cunningly made it impossible for human beings to exist there without a place to sleep. New architectures have put barriers on park benches and spikes under bridges that could provide shelter from the rain and snow. It’s almost as if our cities wanted hermits to live on the outskirts. Don’t they realize that it takes at least a month of not bathing for us to get our own personal stench up to snuff? Water is for drinking – not for that posh bathing habit.
The desert provides warmth, shelter, and all the rattlesnakes you can eat. Provided that you can find water to drink, avoid getting stung by scorpions, and can keep from getting eaten by coyotes, it’s like living in a five star hotel for free without worrying about wake up calls or a checkout time.
There are perks. You just need to look for them.
Should you be lucky enough to find a vacant cave you can now live life like a hermit gangsta. You can be the envy of all hermits in the area that haven’t decided to evict you from your God given claim. Should you keep your own bit of dirt you can live in relative comfort knowing that you were as instinctive as all of the other poisonous life forms and insects that needed to get out of the heat as much as you.
Just some helpful guidelines
How I Remained With Humanity
More than one married man has observed that the reason why we stay with our spouses is that we have that one special person who can tell us when we’ve gone too far. My wife is no exception.
After I lost my last job, my wife made it a point to periodically check on me. I have gotten so wrapped up in my job search and own vicious circles that she knows that when I start to grill chicken and leave the bones outside my basement door like some wild animal kept within a dungeon that it’s time to come up for some air and join the living.
My leaving humanity was entirely circumstantial. I lost my job and my car died. I had no job or regular income to get it fixed. My wife is also without regular work. So my options to keep in touch with humanity have been limited to nearby neighbors, Facebook, email, and to job recruiters. The wall I have inadvertently built around myself has been high and nearly impenetrable.
Which takes a bit of effort.
My outer shell of personality has been reduced to grunts and pitiful whines while I contemplate my own professional future. On a good day, I’ll yell at the dog. It is times like those when you need someone to talk to. It is times like those you need someone to remind you that shaving, bathing, and eating something outside of a Doritos’ bag is how normal people act.
When I fall into this pit of despair I need help getting out.
That’s why I love my wife. Only a spouse can tell you without fear that only animals have the right to smell a certain way and that we all need to get up and rejoin the human race. We need to believe that being jobless is a temporary state of things and that only by removing ourselves from the tunnel vision made by the incessant panic of uncertain doom that we can keep any kind of semblance of our own sanity.
I talk to others because I need to remind myself that I’m not alone and that giving up and joining the ranks of the unwashed and forsaken should not ever be an option. I have consciously decided to fight for my own mind.
Those of you who were eagle eyed enough to see that this hub has been my attempt at keeping my wit a bit sardonic and that we really do have a real homeless problem, congratulations. Have a cookie.
There is a mindset amongst the uninitiated that homeless people are like happy hobos invented by Red Skelton and Judy Garland. Or that hermitage without being monastic is a lifestyle choice that is made by people who are looking to game the system. These people have lead blissfully ignorant lives and I hope they never find themselves where they are going to be living on the non-chic cat food diet plan when our social security system finally fails.
There is nothing funny about poverty. And while I have written much of this in tongue and cheek part of me was inspired by the gut-wrenching fear I have in becoming one of their number. The reality is that our society really doesn’t care what happens to these people. They are swept under the carpet and have been labeled as insane by our local politicians – as if poverty can only strike people who have lost their minds.
When I look at what some celebrities do with their money or the lifestyles they’ve chosen to live, I really have to wonder if insanity is exclusive to the poor.
“Losing your mind” is a possible by-product of poverty. Doing whatever you need to do to survive is not an act of insanity nor is it an act of cowardice. Finding yourself in a place where you’re having an issue dealing with reality is a serious problem.
Understanding that is the first step toward recovery.
You have fallen and may not be able to get up. It can happen. I get nauseated whenever I hear the uninitiated say, “You have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” It tells me more about the person saying it rather than the actual advice given. The fact that the analogy involves a bit of clothing no longer worn in this day and age should tell you how out of sync these people are.
Of course they mean that you have to get up on your own and you have to find the “gumption” (another word rarely used by people in this century) to make it happen. The problem is that sometimes the game is rigged, the table is tilted, and we all face a no-win scenario.
When we look at the poor unfortunates that have found that the only reality worth looking at is the one they’ve had to create on their own, we need to wonder whether they’ve gone insane or whether they’ve chosen the best possible option.
© 2015 Christopher Peruzzi