Recently, I’ve found myself thinking of Annie Dillard a lot. There’s so much in this world demanding your attention 24/7. I’m actually afraid to turn my phone off because I feel like I’ll be cut off from the rest of the world. Like something monumental will happen as soon as I log off from the world network. Ironically though, I avoid the news at all cost (another rant for another post). But as much as I’m afraid of being disconnected, I also long for it. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is like a manual for one dream year, separate from reality and totally immersed in solitude and nature.
What I wouldn’t give to not worry about finances, keeping in touch, work, chores, being clean, being nice. Just to live alone in a cabin for a year, writing and experiencing. Sure, I’d probably go a little nutty like Dillard is now, but some of us aspire to be nuts. Yes that’s right. When I grow up, I wanna be bat-shit crazy.
But more than being crazy, I want to be a writer. And not just any writer. A writer who sees the world with new eyes. A writer who influences readers and makes a difference in how readers think. A writer like Annie Dillard. (A writer who doesn’t use parallel structure so much. Mental note to self, I can’t pull it off without sounding cheesy.) I want to unpeach the peaches. I want to observe the praying mantis in the mason jar, to see a frog deflate, to wake up with the bloody paw prints of a tomcat on my chest. Because Tinker Creek allowed Dillard to live. And I want to live.
If I could have my own Tinker Creek experience, I’d want to go up to Alaska or Canada for a summer. I don’t think that I could handle the north in winter, but I want to be in mountains, and I want to see the northern lights. Or maybe a remote beach. I couldn’t handle a dessert though. I love the beauty of a dessert, but I couldn’t take that emptiness along with solitude. I need nature, green things, and creatures if I were to do a year all by me onesies.
I would have a pet with me. Maybe a small hunting dog or a big, surly tomcat. But what would I write about? Would I finish one of my many novels? Short fictions? My doctorate? Creative non-fiction about my nature observations? Crazy rantings of an unhinged mind? More rambling blog posts (sorry kids)? Maybe all of it. Hopefully, all of it. Hell, maybe none of it! I could procrastinate that whole damn time with minesweeper and Facebook. Although Facebook probably wouldn’t be “allowed” during a year of solitude…
Mainly, I’ve just been dreaming of Dillard lately because of this new job. Locked inside on a computer and a phone all day with no windows or connection with the outside world. I feel trapped and cut-off from an essential part of me. My very favorite time of my day is right after I leave my building and before I reach my car in the morning. As I walk by the woods in the early morning when things are still and covered in dew, I feel a deep calm and always recall a line from my favorite poem: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.”
So while I will probably never be able to spend my own year by Tinker Creek, I think I’ll sit outside by the woods and read Annie Dillard. And pray that I get a new job soon.