Those of us who identify with the Hermit love to spend time alone. The Hermit, after all, goes off alone up a mountain, into a cave, or across the desert; sometimes he just withdraws into his own mind. It doesn't matter where he goes; what matters is keeping his own counsel. He does come back to his tribe from time to time to teach and share and probably to get a Starbucks and maybe a pizza.
Many of you know that this is the year of the Hermit (as reckoned by adding the digits of the year together 2+0+1+6=9=the Hermit). So I didn’t think much about it when the Hermit card kept coming up for me over the past few months. Turns out, he wasn’t just stopping by to say “hi” or get directions to Starbucks. Nope. He had a bigger message for me.
The first threads of the message started over a year ago when I read The Philosophers’ Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination by Patrick Harpur. This paragraph really stuck with me:
Hermes is also, I suspect, behind the ‘information revolution’. He is, we remember, the god of crossroads and boundaries, of mediation and of communication. If we revere him he gives us hermeneutics, insights, and wisdom; if we do not, he deceives us (he is a great Trickster) through messages that seem true but are really false. Since he travels, uniquely among the gods, from Above to Below, from Olympus via our world to Hades, his dimension is depth. We relate to him through the depths of soul whose movement is slow, labyrinthine and downwards towards death. If we deny Hermes his vertical movement, he begins to spread horizontally, to speed up, until he is girdling the Earth like Puck (who did it in forty minutes). Hermetic revelations become literal signals, from satellites above to cables below, whose transmission criss-cross the globe, growing faster and more garbled by the minute in a wild attempt to return us to that knowledge of eternal things which can never, alas, be cobbled together by no matter how many trillions of bits of information strung across the world.
Those words have been growing louder in my memory, sometimes shouting as if in warning. For the longest time, I ignored it. Instead, I kept scrolling through my Facebook feed. I had a really bad case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I always want to know what’s going on, what people are doing, what’s exciting and interesting “out there.” So much so that I forgot that I need to pay attention to what’s exciting and interesting “in here” <points to head and heart>.
So much of what I read on FB fills me with ideas and questions and fuels my curiosity, which is great. Except that all I really do is make a note of it, but the note in this big box of notes that I have, and move on to consume the next great idea. I don’t actually pursue the ideas, seek out answers within myself, or follow my curiosity deeply. One idea that kept skimming the surface of my consciousness is for a novel about a young woman who takes herself offline. I kept thinking about it, not realizing at the time that I was imagining my own future.
My birthday was January 16. The night before, as I was falling asleep, I had this clear thought “You must remove yourself from social media.” I told that thought it was nuts. How would I run my business? How would anyone know about my readings or my classes. And a really quiet, honest voice asked “how will I know who I am?”
The next morning, I was journaling and pulled a card for the year (a birthday tradition of mine) and almost fell off my chair when I saw it was the Hermit and the voice that spoke last night kind of laughed and murmured something about the Universe and a 2 x 4 and my thick skull. I swallowed my fear and entertained the thought.
It was finally time to admit it. I needed to energetically cut my cords to social media. Not just check it less, but deactivate my accounts and metaphorically depart on a Hermit’s journey, taking the time to explore all these ideas and possibilities that I’ve been gathering. And I need to find out who I think I am when my beautiful, kind, and generous Facebook friends aren’t telling me who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I love who they say I am. And I think that’s really who I am, only older and not quite so sparkly pretty. But I need to find out for sure.
Also, I’m interested in connecting with fewer people more deeply. Which means I’ll be doing more blogging. Hopefully people who are interested will stop by and see what I’m thinking about and share what they think via email or the comments. I am not going off the internets completely, just all forms of social media. I’m not sure for how long, either. It’s all a bit of a mystery to me.
Another interest of mine right now is paper…with handwriting or hand made marks on it. So if you send me your mailing address, maybe I’ll write you a real letter sent with a stamp and everything!
This is important: I do not think anyone else needs to do this. There is absolutely no judgment here (you all know me well enough to know that, right?). I don’t think social media is bad or evil. I actually love it. But sometimes a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do. I hope you all keep the party going while I’m gone and I really hope my Hermit trek doesn’t take that long so I can join you again soon.
So, in honor of the Year of the Hermit, in honor of the crazy voice in my head, and in hopes of curing myself of FOMO, I will deactivate my Facebook account at the end of the day on Friday, January 22. Yikes. I’m kind of scared. And kind of excited.