Should hermits work, or does work in the world contradict being a hermit? Self-sufficiency is still largely possible to hermits in wilderness and small towns, but perhaps the definition of hermit should be adaptable to times and circumstances, for the hermit is not necessarily a survivalist. Even accounts of mountain and desert hermits of the past show them going to towns and villages for supplies once a month or once a year, trading woven baskets or hemp garments or herbs and picked fruit for other comestibles. Physical isolation and social isolation is relative, too, as the examples of urban hermits show. An ideal hermit does not actively hate people and culture, but simply avoids them as unnecessary and dispiriting. If we insist on too precise a definition or lifestyle, we verge on the ideal and create an image always outside of reality. The paradox is that we are striving for that ideal despite it being outside of reality. Not because we are deluded. Perhaps a good image is that of an asymptote, the mathematical concept of a line that approaches but never reaches a particular point. Our lives are like spiritual asymptotes, closer to our goal the more solitude nurtures us, regardless of the fact that we will never get there.