Most children don’t secretly aspire to become a hermit. Most.
It was around the age of seven that I divulged to my mom my most fervent desire: to take up residence in a mountain cave, alone, and harvest herbs for sustenance.
I’m not making judgments or anything, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that her response to my confessed predilections for cave dwelling was mild compared to how most mothers would react. Ever the trained therapist, she replied, “That sounds neat. What is it that you’d like about that?” Fortunately for my career and romantic life, I ended up gravitating to the Bay Area and a career in finance; as far cry from an herb-filled mountain cave as one could imagine.
I’m not entirely sure when or how it happened, but my idea of what was important shifted. What I should do with the hours of my days was work, earn, produce, even to the exclusion of everything that seven-year-old Lindsay valued.
Years of correcting those types of silly inclinations eventually knit together Adult Lindsay, who had set aside the frivolities of her childhood in exchange for professional stability and financial security. The part of her brain dedicated to play and imagination had been reallocated to remembering nuances of various capital markets and foreign exchange rates.
But Adult Lindsay’s tightly knit life began to unravel, ironically, because of neglecting her hermit side. This is best illustrated with the below excerpt from the dramatic screenplay entitled Work at Your Desk in the Office Forever (it’s a working title).
HERMIT: Pay attention to me! I’m bored! There’s nothing to color here!
ADULT: Shut up! There are literally 15 things on fire right now.
HERMIT: I’m tired of this place, when are we gonna leave and go play?
ADULT: I said shut up! You’re distracting me! Oh my god, I’m never getting out of here.
HERMIT: (Bored and playful; notices a loose string on the hem of Adult’s jacket and starts pulling on it slowly; Hermit continues to tug and twist, giggling as she runs around and around an empty chair nearby, wrapping it in the unwound thread of Adult’s $250 J. Crew blazer)
It’s laughable to picture what my life would be living alone in a cave. The unbalance and solitude is undeniably literal. Yet somehow, the polar opposite of being constantly accessible to people seemed like a normal, respectable endeavor.
After almost 33 years of trial and error, I’m starting to get the importance of the whole living-a-balanced-life thing. Being by oneself in a physical cave is no more ridiculous than isolating oneself from the world emotionally and spiritually. If I put food on the physical table, but don’t feed my soul, I will still die.
Adult Lindsay is still around nowadays, but Hermit Lindsay will always exist to help her recharge. A battery that’s only ever plugged in never fulfills the purpose of its existence. There’s power in being connected, even if it’s draining.
So, in the spirit of meaningful connection, but tempered with the desire to be left the hell alone, this stream-of-consciousness pseudo-journal is my way of staying linked to you, to myself, and to something bigger than us all.
And to make memes.