On the Virtues of Being a Hermit

Cogito Ergo Scribo
8 min readSep 22, 2023
a hermit in the woods.

What is the one question, after — “How old are you?” — that every kid gets, from strangers and familiars, blasted from every direction and every corner at every kid in every queue, on every street corner, anywhere a toddler or young kid comes across an adult who does not know them or who hasn’t seen them in awhile?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This is the question.

You’re all familiar with the question and you can probably remember your answer, even after decades and decades.

I remember how I answered and it’s been 50 years.

I said proudly and confidently: “I want to be a hermit!”

I said this to many raised eyebrows and puzzled looks.

“I want to live in the woods all by myself,” I would exclaim to my parents’ dismay.

“Oh . . . .” people would say.

It’s true though. I wasn’t making it up. From the moment I became self-aware, for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a hermit.

It’s not that I hate people, it’s just that I prefer to be alone, and I prefer to be alone in nature.

I still do, 50 years later.

This is my life goal: to be a hermit, and I have been unable, thus far, to accomplish this life goal.

In my first year of college, I rented a junky, pasted together apartment attached to the back of a big, old house, but I had a roomie to split the rent. He was also a college student. His name was Eric. He dropped out in the middle of second semester and went home and I had the place to myself for a few months, but he returned the next year to split the rent with me again and I was no longer alone and shortly after this I met my future wife and we started hanging out and she got pregnant so we moved in together and this tossed a big hand grenade in my plans to be a hermit living alone.

Plus, there’s the whole issue of work and money and making it and usually we have to deal with other people in order to make money and I am no different so the truth is I have never really been able to escape into solitude and peace and sequester myself in the woods to exist and create and watch nature evolve all around me.