Adoxography of Eucatastrophe
This is the title that’s written on the cover of my journal.
Loosely translated (I’m assuming a few may not be familiar with) this means “a lot of words written about pretty-much nothing that describe a story with a happy ending”.
I’ve decided this defines my journals, my blogs, my writing in general. In fact it could stand as a definition of my life, I suppose. For what else do we have really, when we reach that ending? What do we have that “moth and rust do not corrupt”, as my dear friend Sparrow would say? We have this library in our minds, filled with love and loved ones, and remembrances of the beauty and wonder life has shown us during our brief stay. I’ve decided in advance that the story will have a happy ending. (Nod to Neil)
The making of a hermit
Quick bio: regular life, married, children, regular job. Kids grew up (6 grandkids BTW), my wife died a little over two years ago, and last year I retired from the working world in April, at the age of 63. I live in a 9-room Victorian farmhouse in the country with a dog and a cat. Until July of last year my adult son lived with us finalizing a divorce, and his two children were here often. This makes July 5th, 2022, the official date on which my hermitage began. Or would that be “hermitization”? “Hermitism”?
Hikikomori is a term for a modern day hermit. From the Japanese hiki, meaning “being in solitude”. Hikikomori are folks that don’t prefer to leave their residence, limit social contact with the outside world, and keep a small circle of family and friends. Common definitions for hermit describe one who lives alone, away from society, often as a religious discipline. Its ancient Greek root eremos has two meanings; a lonely and desolate place or a state of being alone.
Defining my life.
As I entered this phase of my life, and being an armchair philosopher, I took appropriate pause to contemplate, in considerable detail and with many important considerations, a conscious course that would bring me ever closer to my lofty goals of inner peace, oneness with nature and harmony with the great cosmos. Talk about adoxography! We’re gonna see that word a lot from here on in, so get used to it.
What’s all that gibberish mean? Well, I found myself suddenly in a unique place , to wit: I had no job to go to, no one to answer to, no one to take care of (except the dog & cat). Honestly it was a bit mind-blowing for a while, owing to a paid mortgage and a frugal lifestyle, that my Social Security retirement benefit would support me comfortably. After the initial psychological shock of up-ending 50 years of routine, and leaping off the income cliff into the government stipend safety net, I awakened one day to the realization that I was totally free to define my days. Totally free. I would repeat Totally Free in bold and italics but that would be- you guessed it- more adoxography. And maybe overkill. Alright so CAP LOCK and bold it and italicize it all you need to, but the feelings that welled within me were akin to a man just released from indenture. It was, and is, intoxicating.
Bear in mind that a lot of this is still new to me. I make it a point to reflect on July ’22 as the real beginning of this adventure. Now we have turned the calendar page, and according to conventions (like income tax, for instance) it is a new year. A New Year. I’d put together a line that rolled the “totally free” bit with the “a new year” bit for dramatic reasons but you guys are prolly getting tired of the-don’t make me say it-adoxography. As I coursed through autumn and on into my beloved winter, I discovered little need to leave my Eden. I never tire of being here, I have no real desire to “go see” any place, and I am entirely contented. Do I need to bold and ital that? Truly contented.
Now I think it’s important to point out that I didn’t choose recluse, because I think that connotates a rejection of the world. Part of my willingness to hermitize is motivated by aspects of the world that do not bring me contentment, but there are things in the world I like. My kids, friends. Dollar General. So I make a trip to the DG or the hardware store if necessary. And I have friends & family once a week on Wednesday for Tuesday Night Music Club. Another night (in the off-season) is typically dinner with daughter and her husband, followed by Rumikub or UNO. So I’m not a loner either, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to anyone that knows me. I wanted to call myself “monk of the pines”, but the definition of monk is a religious disciple. I like the terms artist and eccentric, too, but haven’t quite married them to “hermit” yet.
So my day-to-day life follows the whim that strikes me. I love to cook and bake, having professional experience at both, and run a tidy kitchen. I was always “Mr.Mom”, equal to my wife, when it came to the domestic service of home and children, laundry, bath times, bed times and meals, as well as the maintenance guy, which leaves me in good stead to care well for myself, the pets and the Ark. I have assembled a library in the second story, a music studio in the parlor, an art studio in the kitchen, and a cozy den for watching Dr. Zhivago or Sergeant Preston of The Yukon (and his wonderdog Yukon King) when the February blizzards call for it. A step out the back door and I am greeted with rolling drumlins and woodlands that would please Christopher Robin. Here Sassy June and I walk in all weathers, from the muddy and fragrant fresh spring through the rustling leaves of autumn, and on snow shoes through my favorite season.
And of course, there’s that journal. The Adoxography of Eucatastrophe.
And in summation
Talk about a waste of words. You’re not supposed to start a sentence with And according to an ancient convention we call English, and if you’re summarizing, why not summarize rather than telling us you’re going to summarize, which is a precursor to the actual summation? Okay, I’m guilty of starting sentences with And. Who makes up such stupid rules, anyways? And who cares? I’m not getting paid for this, y’know.
Well, the summation goes like: “there you have it.” I guess.
The thing is with writing the blog… I never wanted to make a blog that just talked about me and what I’m doing. It had to relate to others somehow. Or entertain them. The other thing is a post topic by itself, and that’s guilt. Have you ever heard of survivor’s guilt? It’s not uncommon, after losing a loved one, to feel guilty you’re still here, and they cannot share the joys of your days. I know it’s a bit abstract, but I feel that way about my blog writing sometimes. Truthfully, I can describe myself as living a storybook life in a fairy tale world inside a snow globe. But I don’t mean to just brag about how great my life is, even though I feel that way. I still bear hope that by relating these humble facts and sharing these experiences I might provide something that may contribute to another’s contentment, or pursuit of the path they choose. Or at the very least provide a few moment’s entertainment.
Hopefully, a eucatastrophe without a lotta adoxography, eh?
From the land of Happily Ever After
I declare again-we are as much alike in spirit, as anyone, I have ever met. The world holds very little attraction to me. I love all people, really-but I do not need the interaction, that so many thrive on. Wild places are so much more “my home”. I could go on and on but I know you get it. How beautiful to know you and Godspeed in your effort to experience real quality and the joy -your friend, sparrow
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I think people get all spun up with their sensory overload- society, the TV, the texting and notifications on cell phones, constant noise and music. I think few people are comfortable with themselves and silence. My son Ryan insists on having a television on (especially in the kitchen when cooking), even if he’s not watching it. He says it adds background atmosphere, otherwise the room will be too empty. I think folks like us have “spun down”, and arrived at a quiet place where we can sit and gather our thoughts. Where we can look up and out at the maelstrom that is our modern world. From here we can see the charlatans, and the flimsiness of so many things being represented as ideals. Marketing is the American Way and the path to the American Dream for so many. We practically invented the idea, vaulted it to new heights, and have perfected it so that it is insidious. It sounds like Orwellian paranoia, but if you take a close look you’ll see we’re all being tracked and marketed to in every way and at every available moment by the hawkers. In quite sophisticated ways, we are practically brainwashed into uniformity, and made to feel we are missing out or missing the mark if we don’t buy the snake oil du jour.
I often try to put myself back in time, to the pioneering days of the American frontier. How did people live without television and internet and daily mail filled with catalogs and pop-up text ads on your cell phone, lashed to your hip every waking hour like a gunslinger’s revolver?
Still, my brain falls for it. It reads the “Stock up on your snake oil” ad and thinks “maybe I should stock up on snake oil.”. When I recognized that I realized the extent to which I was being marketed to. I decided then and there that I would not read anything that’s marketing, nor listen to commercials on television (nor watch the news). That I would wait until it occurred to me that I needed or wanted something. Then I can go out to the outhouse to grab the Sears and Roebuck catalog to carefully consider my selection.
Go hikikomori. Extricate yourself from the carnival.