Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hermits - 2 scenarios

Hermits have a long history, often associated with religious asceticism and spiritual enlightenment. But those leading an eremitic life, as it is known, sometimes do so for other reasons. They may have a compelling need to withdraw from society, they may even be misanthropic. The word "hermit" derives from the Greek word for "desert," and has several synonyms, including "recluse" and "solitudinarian." Another word - "troglodyte" - can mean a person living in seclusion or a cave-dweller. With that in mind, let me lay out the 1st of 2 recent instances in which people set themselves apart from society for other than religious reasons:

Scenario 1
Brothers Zsolt and Geza Peladi live in a cave outside Budapest, Hungary, because they are destitute, and the only money they earn is by selling junk they find in the street. They were abandoned by their mother - who had also severed ties with her wealthy family and has since died - and lost touch with their father and a sister in the U.S. When their maternal grandmother dies in Germany, the lawyers handling her estate discover the brothers' existence through genealogical records and contact them through Budapest's Maltese Charity Service. They only need a copy of their mother's death certificate and proof of their identity and family connections to share in a $7 billion inheritance with their sister. "If this all works out it will certainly make up for the life we have had until now - all we really had was each other - no women would look at us living in a cave," says Geza.

Scenario 2
Charles Harold Arlington decides to live a life of seclusion in Westport, New Zealand. According to his daughter, he does not like people and prefers his own company. He sets up house in a tent among dense bush bordering a farm, chains his dog Mojo up outside, and builds a sluice to mine for gold in the nearby stream. Arllington uses his truck to keep medical appointments, but dies of unspecified causes in the summer of 2008. A couple of weeks later, a farmhand seeks him out to complain about his loose dog and finds a collapsed tent. Inside are the head and torso of Mr. Arllington - the rest of his body having been eaten by his dog.

The lives of other contemporary hermits probably fall somewhere between those two extremes.

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