Commentary about hermits rest.

Sometimes to see where you are you have to look back at where you’ve been. Don’t linger there, just take a quick glimpse, fill in any unaddressed hollows that could haunt you into the forevers.

Introspection while steeped in solitude is the best way I’ve found for unraveling the knots of self misconception.

In 1997 when I moved from the west coast of California to the high desert mountains of Arizona I traded seagulls and the ocean for ravens and the high desert sky.

I traded people and the city for the life of a recluse and the wilderness.

I spent 9 years in solitude.

It took 3 years of just sitting or aimlessly wandering the hills like an unteathered camel to wash away forty eight years of accumulations motivated by fear.

Almost half a century held captive by fear.

It took another three years to trade anger for compassion, sorry for joy and the intellect for intuition.

And another three years to end reification and set myself free from me.

Nine years facing the wall of introspective solitude.

Because I believe if you don’t take the time you forfeit the rhythm of simply being.

People have asked me how can you spend nine years in complete solitude.

The further out you go, the longer you stay and the longer you stay the less likely you are to find a reason to return.

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A fear gripped world.

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Fear can grip us and hold on.

Clinging to us like a bad odor.

Stifling the movement in the motion of being.

An impediment that if not removed by the shrug of experience becomes chiseled in the granite of a heavy soul.

I’ve been swamped by it while snorkeling through the mud of hesitations, that keep me book marked in the dusty pages of time.

 

 

Maximizing the minimal.

I love simplicity. When I established Hermit’s Rest in ‘97 the lifestyle demanded simplicity and I embraced it. I even decided to find out just how simple simple could get, The Hindu holy men that sit naked in the temple alcoves with nothing but a mat, begging bowl and water cup are the practitioners of quintessential simplicity, however I’m not in India. Such behavior is frowned on here in the states so I had to compromise.

Simplicity is based on minimalism. I asked myself what do I really need to live a comfortable and sanitary life. For the first 17 years I lived alone with my Queensland Heeler ‘Gabbie’ who was perfectly content with a water bowl, food bowl and sleeping bench I made her, she was essentially a Hindu Siddha without the temple alcove.

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I also didn’t have much money because I gave my medical engineering practice in California to a colleague of mine and retired at 48. I decided having all the time in the world to spend was a richer and simpler life than having a stack of money to spend. I spent the first 22 years of my life dirt poor and didn’t become a successful engineer until I was 27. I went from being a hippie living in an old converted chicken coop with a yearly income of $720.00 dollars a year and a beat up ‘58 Ford pickup to a yuppie with a hillside home and Porsche. At the height of my silliness to overcome a life of poverty and try out social acceptance and success I wound up buying the restaurant where I had been the janitor 8 years before (the source of my hippie $720.00 a year income) and owning a Mercedes a BMW another restaurant and was working 120 hours a week. Two things saved me. One of my regular customers at the restaurant who was living in his VW bus asked me how much the Mercedes was costing me a month, I told him with payments, insurance, yearly registration and maintenance probably around $600.00 a month. He responded with “Hell Mike you only drive it to and from work. I’ll come pick you up and take you home for a hundred a month.” I bought him breakfast and he never had to pay for his coffee again, cheap price to pay for the wisdom of common sense. The other major influence was Paul Simons song, “Slip sliding away.” The lyrics “The closer you’re destination the more you slip slid away” hit the soul of my true self like a hammer. A year later I walked away from everything, bought an old motorhome and headed for the Arizona wilderness. My income dropped from $130,000 a year to $7,920 but my time account soared to unlimited heights and the elation experienced in freeing myself from all of the social trappings, along with returning to my true nature, made the adjustment easy.

When the only person you’re accountable to is your dog it leaves you with a lot of leeway in lifestyle choices.

I bought my property for a hundred dollars down and seventy-five dollars a month for eight years. The next step was to drive a hundred miles to the nearest city and trade the motorhome for a 1986 four wheel drive pickup with a six inch lift and 33” all terrain tires to navigate the unpaved roads. To replace the motorhome I bought an old twenty-four foot travel trailer, moved it on the property and covered it in concrete to keep it from falling apart as well as creating a trombe wall effect for passive solar heating and insulation. Three years later I saved up enough money to build an eighty square foot front room for reading, writing and whittling. I added large windows for the view which brings the outside in. The place may look a bit odd but it’s efficient, comfortable, easy to heat, keep cool and maintain. The total cost was $4,800. 


Three years ago I somehow managed to find a woman who found my company tolerable and this lifestyle had always been her dream. The post “Hide and watch” talks about how that remarkable event occurred. The house is 240 square feet that we find more than adequate.

Over the years and as I got older I allowed myself a few comforts. A composting toilet and I expanded the 65 watt solar system to 175 watts to run a laptop and small 12 volt refrigerator that’s about the size of a large ice chest. The place is still run off of just two 6 volt deep cycle golf cart batteries. Due to the open floor plan and it’s size our primary light source is a 4 watt LED ceiling fixture. We use an average of 350 watts of 12 volt electricity in 24 hours, that’s with the refrigerator, lighting, laptop and a 12 volt DVD player for a movie at night.

We have 2,300 gallons of water hauled  in once a year and stored in two large tanks. We’ve found if used conscientiously 6 gallons of water a day is adequate for drinking, cooking, bathing and the hand washing of clothes.

85 gallons of propane is delivered twice a year and in the winter it can average 20 degrees at night and 40 degrees during the day with the occasional below zero at night and 20 during the day. Once again the size of the place and simple passive solar heating help.

We don’t require much in the way of things other than basic supplies so we drive an average of 1,680 to 2,000 miles a year which allows us to spend time at home watching the wonderment of our natural surroundings and listening to the whispers of nature.

This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and rightfully so, it has it’s challenges, and family obligations are a factor. I’ve posted this simply to show those who might feel trapped in a dead end life that what you get yourself into can always be backed out of and it doesn’t require much money. Simply a conviction that if you point your toes in the right direction all you have to do is start walking.

“When you live your dream you’ll find yourself dancing your joy in the stark moonlight casting an ever increasing shadow of being.”

Bright blessings and may we merry meet again,

Mike and Lori

“Hide and watch.”

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One of our neighbors stopping by for a nap in our gazebo

If you look closely you’ll  see the Lynx which stopped by the other day for a little water and a nap. In the summer we get a variety of guest seeking the shade and cool concrete of the gazebo. From rabbits to rattle snakes they all seem to know about the gazebo at Hermits Rest. And yes I know, rattlesnakes? Well it’s quite the experience to be working in the gazebo, notice some movement in your peripheral vision, and discover an adult rattlesnake simply passing by you on its way to its favorite napping corner. It’s quintessential mutual acceptance, absent of prejudice and fear. It’s one of the best ‘spiritual experiences’ I’ve ever had. I’ll take being totally accepted by the critters in nature over ‘enlightenment’ any day.

I think these events are the result of having been here for so long (since 1997) that when the local wildlife see me they think, “oh, it’s just him.”

Now my wife is a whole other story and I’m posting this to give you and my long-term reader friends a glimpse of the woman who not only tolerates but actually loves my company along with the composting toilet, the 230 square foot wilderness hermitage that’s powered by two golf cart batteries via the sun and that using a total of six gallons of water a day isn’t conserving, it’s all that’s necessary. In fact she spends more time telling me what we don’t need than what we do because she says we have everything.

Lori is a wizard of nature, a natural naturalist. The other day I saw her going for a walk and chatting with one of her favorite tarantulas who was literally walking alongside her. No kidding, she not only knows this particular tarantula she knows where it lives and that it had babies last year. Golden eagles swoop down on occasion and give her a wing wave and ravens hang out with her in the gazebo. The wildlife may think ‘oh it’s just him’ when they see me but when she steps outside you can almost hear them say ” hey there’s Lori let’s stop by and say hi.” She’s even a doggone barometer. She can step outside, look at the sky and then tell me there’s a storm circling around from the south but it will come in from the west in about an hour. If she tells me this at 2 p.m. you’ll find me closing the windows at 3 because sure enough..

When I first notice and remarked on these uncanny abilities she simply replied, “I believe in being aware of my surroundings and all that’s occurring in them. All you have to do is hide (meaning be still in an almost invisible way) and watch.”

Now while I spent years reading the ancient teachings and got the doctorate, Lori simply ‘got it’ at the moment she blessed this earth with her presence.

If she ever comes across one of those expounding new age gurus who fancy themselves as teachers of life…I’m just going to ‘hide and watch.’