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Hermits and a Witches Tit
May 29th, 2009 Hermits, Landscape and Meaning


Every morning as I drive to work I see this rock formation in the nearby mountains that looks like a breast. I have named it in honor of one of my paramedic partners for whom every cold day or dead patient was “colder than a witches tit.” Like the face on Mars it wouldn’t look like a tit from another angle, or closer, or farther away. It is my personal icon of morning. Hello tit, good morning tit, looking perky as usual. Are there others who have noted it’s breast-like contours? Do rock climbers scale the giant mammary gland-like formation? Canals on Mars and the man in the moon…we find meaning and connection where none inherently exists. One person’s tit is another’s nothing.

Can we find meaning when there is no interaction? I’m thinking of the ascetics. They remove themselves from contact with other people in an attempt to access some greater meaning. Ascending the mountaintop and jacking into God. Christian, Buddhist, vision quest…culture after culture has similar stories. Humans who have removed themselves from other humans in an attempt to find something more profound. But where is the font of profundity save in ourselves? We make meaning amongst ourselves. There would be no meaning without other people. Would there? Give a baby food, water and shelter but no interaction with other humans and it suffers. No language, no culture, no connection.  We need each other. We carry meaning only within ourselves, though I would dearly like to believe some higher power is pouring insight into us from somewhere else, a more profound and eternal place.

I want things to mean something. Why? It helps me feel connected. Banishment is a punishment, paramount with death. To be fired, to be banished, to be divorced, to be sentenced and locked away in jail. These are blows for us because we need each other. We need the feeling of connection. Even monks don’t live in isolation from each other, although there are people who chose to live solitary lives. Are we allowed to be alone without hardship? Not in most societies. What is the functional difference between the religious hermit and the shut in with 30 cats and a garbage dump worth of crap spilling out of every corner of their home? Intent…choice…self-discipline. What do you find in isolation…a greater connection with the divine? A cleansing of mind clutter? Or merely a kind of insanity with senseless anatomical associations?

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Comment from Steven Gould June 8, 2009, 6:50 pm (#297)

Seems to me that some of us our designed for isolation while others fade away without company.


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