The clean-shaven hermit who emerged from the woods in Rome, Maine in April 2013 claimed that he had been living there in complete solitude for the last 27 years. His only interaction with another human being, he said, had occurred in the mid-1990s – when he said hello to a passing hiker.
Remarkably, the hermit claimed to have survived dozens of harsh winters in the woods by getting up in the middle of the night and pacing around his camp. When he wasn’t battling ice and snow, he spent a lot of time reading and meditating. Indeed, the officers who interviewed him in 2013 told the Portland Press Herald that he was “very intelligent” and “very articulate.”
For thousands of years, mystics and truth-seekers have championed the benefits of an ascetic lifestyle. This particular hermit was not religious, though. According to his biographer, Michael Finkel, he did however have experiences echoing those of romantics and transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, who reflected at length on the relationship between the soul and nature.