by Holly A. Case (Interviewer) and Tom J. W. Case (Hermit)
The following is part of a written interview with Tom, a pilot who has largely withdrawn to a small piece of land in rural South Dakota.
Interviewer: So first of all, thanks for agreeing to this interview. I know a lot of readers are interested to learn more about hermit life, but are probably thinking: “How can I find a hermit?” or “Would a hermit even want to talk with me?” or “If I were a hermit, probably the last thing I’d want is to be pestered with questions. Isn’t that what hermits are trying to avoid?” As you can see, people (not me, of course, but other people) tend to make a lot of assumptions about hermits without really knowing what they’re about. So it’s especially great to have this opportunity. Thank you so much! [pause—awkward silence] Right, so my first question is: How did you become a hermit?
Hermit: I think the relevance is in the “becoming,” more so than the arrival at some particular state—the state of being a hermit in this case. The word hermit puts a bit of a full-stop at the end of what might otherwise be a transcendent experience. In my case, however, if indeed I have become a hermit, it goes something like this: I think we all have an inner hermit living in our minds, very much alone, and each person’s internal processes of hermit-thinking and rationalization are adapted and transmuted into the ways they ultimately interact with the outside world. To put into practice the being of a hermit, then, all I have done is allow the inner hermit to exist on its own terms outside of my mind and body. Subsequently I act a hermit in the outside world in much the same, solitary way as one might behave inside their own mind. The full release of said inner hermit, however, is ripe with responsibility. At least it seems so. In much the same way one cannot just decide one day that stop signs are not to their liking, disregard them without consequence, it only seems fair to fully act oneself in relative solitude so as to not conflict with crossing traffic.
Interviewer: Do hermits brush their teeth?
Hermit: The short answer is yes. Certainly not for vanity, certainly not after every meal, but because teeth are critical and easy to reach. It is possible to tell when teeth need a good brushing, and that is when they get it. Perhaps once per week, sometimes more, sometimes less. In the meantime, chewing on things like twigs and coarse grass stems, consuming apple cider vinegar (followed by clean water), does an amazing job. I imagine every hermit has their own routine. Read more »