National Hermit Day

For some of us, October 29 comes as a welcome holiday, since we naturally lean towards a more solitary life. For others, this sounds like a difficult thing to do, as they are more socially minded. But whatever your natural bent, today is a day to stand back from the crowd and be on your own.

St. Colman of Ireland lived as a hermit in in the Burren Forest in a cave for seven years. He died on October 29, and it is believed that today’s holiday is in honor of him. People who want to get away from the pressures of the world and live by themselves, may be found in all over the world. For many, this is a spiritual practice, as the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the third century CE onwards. The Irish are also noted for this practice. There are no deserts in Ireland, so the Irish hermits tended to find remote, rocky places to build a small hut away from others.

These hermits attracted others, both because of their lifestyle and piety. They sometimes formed small communities, or monasteries. In Ireland these would be presided over by a male or female abbot, and were sometimes had both male and female members.

Today, for most of us, this doesn’t appeal as a permanent lifestyle. Yet, though humans are social animals, we also need a certain amount of alone time to gather our thoughts and to unwind from the demands of life. Today is the day to do that without feeling guilty. Detach from social media. Turn off your phone and television. Shut the door and read a book, or write your thoughts or simply meditate. Take whatever time feels right for you, whether that’s a snatched fifteen minutes, or an entire day. Feel what it’s like to be quiet and alone, at least for a little while.

Quotes about solitude.

All humans are frightened of their own solitude. But only in solitude can we learn to know ourselves, learn to handle our own eternal aloneness.–Han Suyin

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.–Alice Koller

Do not rely completely on any other human being, however dear. We meet all life’s greatest tests alone.–Agnes Macphail

Each of us is alone in the world. It takes great courage to meet the full force of your aloneness. … When you face your aloneness, something begins to happen. Gradually, the sense of bleakness changes into a sense of true belonging. This is a slow and open-ended transition but it is utterly vital in order to come into rhythm with your own individuality. –John O’Donohue

I feel the same way about solitude as some people feel about the blessing of the church. It’s the light of grace for me. I never close my door behind me without the awareness that I am carrying out an act of mercy toward myself.–Peter Hoeg

I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.–Audrey Hepburn

I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.–Henry David Thoreau

Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.–Pearl S. Buck

It is in solitude that the works of hand, heart and mind are always conceived, and in solitude that individuality must be affirmed.–Robert Lindner

The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.–Aldous Huxley

Solitude can be frightening because it invites us to meet a stranger we think we may not want to know–ourselves.–Melvyn Kinder

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National Hermit Week

June 13-20 is designated National Hermit Week (not to be confused with National Hermit Crab Week, which is in February). If ever there was a holiday week designed by introverts, for introverts, this is it! As the founder, Dr. Eleece Jel, says, “In some ways I launched the hermit holiday as a way to find alone time for over-exposed introverts like me.”

Celebrated annually since 1996, this is a time to promote opportunities best pursued quietly and alone such as resting, reading, writing, thinking, meditating, appreciating, etc. This event idea has been used nationwide by teachers and librarians to promote reading, writing and critical thinking skills as well as by counselors as a fun way to encourage time for introspection and rest. It’s a time to step back from the rat race and spend some time meditating, or just thinking about your life, your future, and where you are going. Some people really get involved, going off the grid, into the wilderness alone to spend a week by themselves. But for many it will be enough to take an evening alone to sit and ponder the universe and their place in it. But whether you can take a week, or an evening, or even less time – even if you are an extrovert’s extrovert – it is good to pause, look where you have come from and move forward with deliberation, rather than just being thoughtlessly moved by the circumstances around you.

So a restful, thoughtful week to you! By the way, the graphic is from the episode Utopia from Doctor Who.

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Here are some quotes about hermits, and about living alone.

To live as a hermit is to be untrammeled by things of the world; it is like drawing a length of bamboo out from a dense thicket.–Kyobutsu

My gardening in the course of the years has become nothing but a hermit’s pastime without any practical meaning — that is to say, it has a meaning for me alone.–Hermann Hesse (Notes at Easter)

A hermit is simply a person to whom civilization has failed to adjust itself.–Will Cuppy

I like to go into a little shell and be a hermit and make music for a while.–Delta Goodrem

The mind can weave itself warmly in the cocoon of its own thoughts, and dwell a hermit anywhere.–James Russell Lowell

He travels the fastest who travels alone.–Rudyard Kipling

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…–Henry David Thoreau

Eagles commonly fly alone. They are crows, daws, and starlings that flock together.–John Webster

Solitude is impracticable, and society fatal. We must keep our head in the one and our hands in the other.–Ralph Waldo Emerson (Solitude and Society)

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.–Arthur Schopenhauer (Counsels and Maxims)

There are two distinct components to human nature: the social and the solitary. While most people are strictly social … there are also quite a few loners, people who motivate themselves, derive their rewards directly from nature and whose only constraints are self-imposed. The solitary part of human nature is definitely the more highly evolved, and humanity has surged forward through the efforts of brilliant loners and eccentrics.—-Dmitry Orlov (The Five Stages of Collapse)

Now and again it is necessary to seclude yourself among deep mountains and hidden valleys to restore your link to the source of life.–Morihei Ueshiba

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