Different, not alien. The people I knew I would see from day to day, the traffic on the roadways: No. My company, these days, is limited to the friends and colleagues who email and phone me, the neighbors who wave as they walk, the rare car that drives past.
Walks are quiet, too. Birds and insects make the loudest sounds. Eagles call one another behind the house to the point of being obnoxious. Cows low in the field. The sawmill on the mountain makes its sawmill-y sound. Deer appear on the road… an occasional mink…a chipmunk…a groundhog.
These things are gifts to the writer, when she listens with the right ears.
Sitting out back of the house of a morning or an evening—one can hear the sounds of cars, trucks. They are far away, over the hills; intermittent. Highway 5. People getting from here to there.
An analogy comes in with the sound. People. Far away. And me. My life.
I know that Others are out there…but the knowledge is vague; far off. People with somewhere to be suggests a very different existence from this capsule of ritualized privacy and quiet in which I live. And it has always been that way for me, even before I called this place my full-time home.
The Writer Me has always lived with the rest of living held at a distance. People are always over a hill, somewhere. I know that they are there, but I can’t see them, talk to them, touch them. They don’t know that I’m here listening. They likely don’t much care.
Writers live life apart. We live lives of watching and listening and imagining and experiencing through filters. It’s part of who we are; it’s what we do, part of what makes us the synthesis machines we are.
The universe—even the immediate one—is very far away, and we are very small in it. The trick is not minding it. The secret is liking things that way.