The following is an email that Old Jules wrote several years ago and subsequently posted on a previous blog. I’m posting it after his description of the Peace Corps experience to give continuity to that time period. ~Jeanne
This was the most recent of a long line of exchanges with an online friend, a man who mostly he believes his life is a living hell out of habit, except when he reminds himself he’s blessed, which is only when I remind him to remind himself, thinks I.
Thought I’d share it with you blog readers. I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned my brief life as a hermit.
I suppose you’re right. You live a complicated life. It would be complicated, just with your interpersonal relationships, even if you didn’t have a job that would be enough to satisfy most needs for complication. Even if you didn’t have a piece of real estate that’s located in and part of a subtle war zone. It’s relatively easy to imagine how you’d have some difficulties focusing, relaxing, or anything else.
A long time ago, when I had a complicated life, I used to wonder whether a stay in the sort of place where you work, an asylum, would do the trick as a means of getting me removed from the system of complications I’d built around myself to help make myself unhappy. I concluded that it wouldn’t.
I also gave some thought to whether prison life would do it, but unless it was one of those kinds of Federal prisons all the Watergate folks went to, I don’t think it could.
Thought about a Trappist monastery a bit, even. That might do it. I don’t know, but it seemed so otherwise out of sync with my nature that I never tried it.
But I had the advantage over most people, because I knew what I was missing. When I got booted out of the Peace Corps in 1964, after a bit of time trying to complicate my life in Honolulu the way a person will, I was contacted by the US Army Reserve telling me they wanted to know where I was in case they wanted to reactivate me for Vietnam if they needed people with my particular MOS. In those early days of 1965 nobody knew where all that was going and reactivating the reserves was considered a real possibility.
My support for US military adventures overseas went away entirely during my tour in the Far East. I was gonna have nothing to do with Vietnam. I decided I was going to spend the remainder of my life as a hermit living in the jungle on the big island….. a place called Wiamono Valley on the drainage of the Kohala range…. used to be a village in there but it was wiped out by the tidal wave in 1947 and nobody laid claim on it since. Nobody in there but a blind mule and me…. for six weeks that mule had company.
That six weeks with nobody to talk to but a blind mule changed my whole life. It was a pivotal moment for me, one of the greatest blessings of my stay in this reality this time around. In addition to a book-full of other benefits, it gave me a realization of what’s possible for a human being, mind-wise, if he can succeed in either simplifying his life, or in (I didn’t know then) distancing himself from the web of values, properties, interpersonal relationships and other tangle we do our best to mire ourselves in so we can’t see or hear what we’re trying to keep from seeing and hearing…… the voice of what’s beneath.
I definitely understand what you’re saying, my friend. Hang in there.