Hermits come in all shapes and sizes… each with their own unique dogmas and lifestyle choices… but it is far easier to say that you want to be one than it is to actually live the Hermit life. It is a complicated affair, after all, to actively pursue a life of self-imposed isolation in a world where – no matter where you go – you are bound to come across the one thing you are trying really hard to avoid: People.

Others might disagree but, in my experience, there are really only two basic types of Hermits:

1. The Wilderness Hermit: Lives off the grid and off the land and happily goes months or years without coming across another human being
2. The Urban Hermit: Lives in a populated area, great or small, and keeps to him or her self except to the extent that they have to go out in public to restock and resupply.

As much as I would love to be a Wilderness Hermit, my need for access to a pharmacy disqualifies me. As such I am forced to pursue, essentially, the Urban Hermit life.

These stories take a look at some of the ways I try to go about doing that.

A Beached Hermit

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As I write this, the temperatures outside hover in the 20s and 30s and the ground is covered with a thin layer of snow and ice. It’s perfectly understandable, living in the Northeast in mid-December, that I should complain about the weather because it’s just what we do up here. What we also do up here is fantasize about an early spring while reminiscing about the good times that were had during the recently departed summer. We also start pining for the days yet to come when we will, once again, be beached like gams of whales at this or that spot along a sandy shoreline at our favorite stretch of coast.
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Of Poignance & Bucket Lists

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It’s interesting how seemingly casual, light-hearted conversations can sometimes take on lives of their own and wind up in places that were never intended. I suppose it happens often enough to be no great surprise, but it seems to me that it’s a bit more rare to find yourself still thinking, many days later, about some of what was said and whether there might be some things in your life that needed to change or should be done differently going forward.
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Channeling Sweet Baby James

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I came of age in the 70s and was fortunate to have been exposed to James Taylor early in his career. Even though I grew to prefer loud smash mouth music, Sweet Baby James was always the go-to background guy for cuddling and make out sessions with your best girl.

In a lot of ways, I guess he still is. There’s just something about that voice… smooth and soft and laid-back… just relaxed and chill. I have lost count, over the years, of how many times I’ve gotten worked up or felt put out about something or another and started humming one of his countless ballads and felt instantly better.

I was reminded of this the other day when I had to go out for an emergency run – to that big box store that everybody loves to hate – because I needed to replace, of all things, my front door knob. While I might have preferred to go to that other big box store (you know the one… the handyman’s “Graceland”), but it’s not on a bus line and it’s too dangerous to walk given all the ice and snow that nature dumped on us over the holiday.

Forced to choose between preference and convenience, I gathered up the necessary quarters and my senior fare discount ID card and trundled down to the bus stop. Unlike my usual shopping adventures, this trip would require that I disembark from the first bus partway into town and walk several blocks in order to catch a second bus that would take me to my destination farther out toward the outskirts of the city proper.

When I arrived at the spot where I would have to await the transfer, I was amazed by how much snow the city plows had pushed up, over, and around the waiting area. The snow bank must have been three or four feet deep and would have otherwise rendered the bus stop useless save for the brave soul that had carved out enough of it to be able to get inside and away from the wind.

I began to wind myself up. I started bitching out loud about the utter lack of care or concern, on the part of the city, over how important it was to provide safe access to city services for those of us out here that rely so heavily on them. And just about the time I had worked out my “flaming hate letter” to the new mayor in my head, I began to hear Sweet Baby James singing “try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride”:

At that point, all I could do was chuckle, pull up my 70s Spotify list… scroll down to that song… and think back to the picture I had taken earlier that morning of the Sun shining through that leafless tree. I realized that there are only so many things over which we really have any control and that – at the end of the day – all any of us can do is make the most of what we can and figure out how to enjoy the ride through everything else.

James Taylor is exactly right: The secret of life really IS just enjoying the passage of time.

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