Daily Archives: March 2, 2012

Why a Hermit? Escaping Loneliness in a Young World

I probably should post this on Ask Old Jules, but nobody much reads that blog.  Not that it matters whether anyone reads it, I suppose.  But if I’m going to compose words something in me likes it better thinking it will be read by someone else, than to just fade into oblivion.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this solitude addiction of mine lately, attempting to be candid with myself about it and what it means.  The tripwire involved several emails I’ve received asking what makes me do it, want it, whatever.  It’s plain enough the emails were sincere and genuinely interested, at least on some level.  But it’s also patently obvious the concept is foreign enough to those asking to leave them without a foundation for thinking about it.

One of the emailers was a cautious man carefully lo0king for someone to keep an eye on a property he owns in a remote area.  He’s somewhat caught between conflicting realities, I suppose.  There’s a need for someone ‘responsible, someone he can trust.  But anyone who’d stay there and do what needs doing is going to be a person he can’t understand, can’t identify with.

His concern’s legitimate.  If he allows someone to occupy the place and they happen to be the sort to cook meth on the side, or grow illegal herb, he’s in danger of having the property confiscated.  But he also runs that risk even if the grower or cook enter the unattended property without his knowing it.  Absentee ownership isn’t as seductive a proposition as it once was.

But the email exchange did get me asking myself to form some candid understanding of exactly what motivates me and why I’m a lot happier not being around people much.  And the eventual answer startled me a bit, seemed internally inconsistent.

I generally like people okay as individuals, I concluded, but dislike them in the composite.  I don’t have much in common with groups, but I can almost always find something in common with individuals.  So when I meet strangers in town I find I’m able to have friendly, enjoyable exchanges, though brief.

But I’m always acutely aware that each of those strangers is a part of some larger we, identifying with it, considering himself and it inseparable at some fundamental level.  And almost every ‘we’ I’ve ever examined closely has led me to want nothing to do with it. 

However, another piece of being around ‘we’ identifications scattered around all over urban landscapes is the forced realization of isolation and exclusion of a different sort than that of a hermit, deliberately self-imposing solitude.

The simple fact is, I get lonely and hell when I’m around people.  And I’m not lonely at all when I’m not. 

At least I think I might if I tried it.  I actually don’t recall ever feeling lonely under those circumstances, though I do recall not caring for it.

Old Jules