Summertime is a challenge for this mom. Like many creatives, I’m one of those personalities that needs a good dose of silence and S-P-A-C-E to recharge. So do hermits, as I’ll explore below (But I’m not a hermit).
What keeps you going? Is it hope around the corner, or the work ethic you’ve come to rely on year after year? Or are you tired, and at the point where you want to throw up your hands and disappear from this world we live in? I just finished reading The Stranger in the Woods, a true story of a man who lived as a hermit for 27 years in the back woods Maine. Overwhelmed with life, he walked into the wilderness one day, and stayed there until society absorbed him again.
He was finally captured when technology had become more advanced than he knew how to manage. Devices from Homeland Security were installed in the camp kitchen from where he had stolen food for the last 2+ decades, finally ending his career in solitude.
Experts studied him. He was an anomaly; overwhelmed by the noise and “color” of civilization, his health started to decline. Usually, solitude will eventually drive a normal-functioning person to madness, but not Chris Knight. In fact, the lack of human contact along with his technology-free mind (as explained in greater detail in the book) seemed to have sharpened his senses.
He never became sick. His injuries were never serious enough to need medical attention. He ate the same processed food we eat, of course, considering he stole food to survive. So what was it that preserved him? Was it freedom from the criticism/judgment that erodes us day to day? The freedom that comes when you don’t have to do the job of three people to stay employed?
Dr.’s decided he had some form of Asperger’s Syndrome, depression, or Schizoid personality disorder—some kind of unusual brain chemistry that gave him a pass on the social interaction most of us need for healthy mental function.
Strangely, when Knight tried to describe his experience as a hermit, he said, “Solitude bestows an increase in something valuable. I can’t dismiss that idea. Solitude increased my perception. But here’s the tricky thing: when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. There was no audience. No one to perform for. There was no need to define myself. I became irrelevant.”
Anxiety/stress/depression are overtaking our country (USA). Sometimes the pressure of our day to day lives becomes so overwhelming, we dump our stress onto each other in unkind comments/rumors/criticism/ manipulation, etc., without realizing what we’re doing to our culture. Although kind words, encouragement, patience and all things good are still part of our construct, and hopefully, these will become the colors that shine brighter than those in shades of misery.
Because we need each other. Even the hermits.
God sees our struggles. He knows our fatigue with trying to keep pace, as well as the fruitfulness that comes from goodness and the sometimes-agony of perseverance.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
What keeps you trudging along with, you know, “people”? Leave your words in the comments below.