Day 10 in Lyn Thurman’s “Writing the Wisdom of Your Soul” writing challenge.

Lately, I’ve been trying to walk more. Moving my body has been on my to-do list for the past several months as the effects of a sedentary desk job have been catching up with me and thrown in particularly stark relief as something I need to be particularly aware of now that I’m 40 years old. Honestly, I have to laugh when I say that number out loud – there’s no way I’m forty. It’s just ridiculous to believe I’ve been wandering around the planet that long. Inconceivable. And absolutely true.

I mentioned my urge to walk a few posts back… When I do go out for a walk, it’s never just a walk. I work through my frustrations. I let my brain fuss, argue, wonder, desire, mourn, hope, rage, cheer, wander and observe. To give myself the greatest freedom, I have even been leaving my phone at home. It feels a little uncomfortable – I worry about safety, I see something beautiful I want a picture of, I wonder about some random fact, or I want to capture some idea that floats through my head but I can’t do anything about those impulses because I don’t have my phone. Maybe I ought to just carry a small notepad instead of the phone.

Here’s an interesting thing about writing something down, though: As soon as it’s on paper, it feels “old” to the person who wrote it. Okay, I have no clue whether other people share that feeling with me, but I know that I have hesitated to post blog drafts after even just a scant few days have passed. It’s like, if I didn’t hit Publish (or at least schedule it for a future date/time) then it gets stale. To be clear, I’m talking about the things that are my observations or thoughts about the world around me, not so much the fictional characters I create. I guess it’s because I’ve spent “enough” time (whatever that means) mulling over whatever was creating the impetus for the writing. I’ve written about it, ergo it’s old hat. But I forget that’s only for me. Other people may have also wrestled with the same topics, true, but others might have never given it any thought at all.

What has this to do with creating a hermitage for myself? When I return from those walks by myself, when I sit down and write those words from my brain, I always feel satisfied when I am done. I can always move to the next activity without regret or shame about how I spent that time. The same can’t be said for hanging out on Facebook – I almost always throw my phone down in disgust at myself for having wasted so much time on a mostly nothing activity after I’ve been perusing Facebook for the same length of time that it would have taken me to walk or write.

So what can the Hermit teach me?  That I’m not missing anything that I NEED to know when I unplug and walk away or snuggle down with my pen and notebook. More likely, I absolutely AM missing something… And I have to trust that I will be made aware when the timing is right if I truly need to know. The internet has given us a sense that we can somehow know all things and therefore avoid all the ways in which we might be harmed. Actually, this has probably been the case for a very long time with whatever form of news media is the norm for the day – the internet usurped the TV which usurped the newspaper which usurped the telegraph which usurped the Pony Express which usurped the town crier… Don’t nitpick my timeline – you get the picture. The Hermit gives me permission to retreat from the noise, the wall of things I could give my attention to, and accept that I don’t HAVE to engage in ANY of that. Millions of people the world over live productive and useful and delightful lives without half the attachment to information that I made myself slave to.

What does my place of hermitage look like in my head, then? The place where I retreat from it all, not in fear or anger, but in search of my center, my solid reality? In my head, there are always woods, tall trees that arch overhead. It is cooler under their branches but not cold and the air is not too dry, not too damp. There’s a breeze that comes and goes. There are little critters making small sounds that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once. Sunlight peeks through the branches and falls in small happy patches on the dirt trail. No bugs are bugging me. Everything I need is with me but I am not burdened. I am content out here and I can walk for hours without a care in, of or for the world.