I find myself slouching towards hermitude these days. Every morning Janie and I sit on the sofa in our living room, with our coffees and muffins and digital newspapers and dog and cat. At some point I ask her; “And what is on your agenda today, young lady?” She usually has one or two things planned. If, between the two of us, we have more than two obligations, something inside of me dims a bit. If we have less, I thrill.
That probably sounds dull and sad.
I don’t care.
I’m grateful for Janie, the sofa, the coffee, the muffin, the dog and the cat… and the space and the time.
After 40+ years of fretting about getting stores open in bad weather and keeping them open in the face of employees’ and lawmakers’ whims and peccadilloes, I am genuinely surprised to learn I prefer fretting about which book I should read next, or which Puccini I should listen to, or whether Fellini should have made Amarcord before I Vitelloni and La Dolce Vita…or whether my beloved Reds could truly be a contender this year given their winter acquisitions.
Of course my fretting doesn’t affect any of those things, but they affect me and I believe I’m made better by them.
Oh yes, I now watch too much news and fret about that also. And no, my fretting doesn’t affect any of those happenings. And yes, they do affect me and I am not made better by them. All I can do is resist and await opportunities to act and vote and stay focused on what’s right and kind.
It’s tempting to burrow into our library and fret in solitude…as long as Janie and the critters aren’t too far away………and as long as my friends are within reach somehow, even if it’s by smoke signals (some of my friends nurture odd Urban Amish habits – one of them just started using email last year though the fake news didn’t report it).
What kind of ersatz hermit is that?
A couple of months ago I babysat with an old friend. He had just had a knee replacement, was recuperating and was challenging his wife with his recuperation. I surmised her sanity remained intact though her patience was exhausted. She needed a break and my friend needed some of Janie’s fine veggie/beef soup. I delivered the soup and a few hours respite.
It was just the two of us and the soup and a movie and the continuation of a conversation that has lasted for slightly over fifty years.
Most of the time it’s been civil.
Most of the time it’s been intelligent.
Occasionally it’s been clever.
100% of the time it has been continued in the blissful belief that this conversation is important to our health and the health of the planet. All problems are solved…even if it’s by disagreeing and going away to ponder a bit.
There’s no hate. There’s no name-calling.
There is some sneering, but that’s just because that’s the way my friend’s face is constructed when he gets excited.
It was a real good time.
I seek these opportunities with my friends, old and new, and grow from them. Janie and I thrive on the laughter and the foolishness and the wisdom of our friends.
What the hell kind of hermit is that?
I fear I’ll never earn my Hermit Union Card at this rate.
I guess that’s OK.
…I slouch on…