|An Amish buggy on the road in Casey County, Ky. Copyright, R. Lee Tipton 2016.|
We hermits tend to absorb too much, too fast. It's a sensory overload. An hour in public is often too much, and we retreat safely into our bubble of simple distance as a nearly-drowned person might seek dry land. Sanctuary is the sound-proofed space where the experiences of the perhaps overly-sensitive brain can go to attempt sorting things out.
I note that a good many of the hermit types also harbor some sort of chronic illness that escalates the sand-in-one's-underwear-at-the-beach emotional equivalent. If there is already pain and discomfort, human interaction can quickly become torture. It does make sense that adding an itch to an already painful condition would make things worse.
Growing up in Appalachia was a gift. It was a school of hard knocks that kept giving, and now it's imploding, more or less, from being unable to expand into a better place. The state I live in, in particular (in my opinion, for what it's worth), is a hard place to love. I grieve for its demise and for the narrow, unloving minds with their intolerant ways who made it what it is today. Until I can accept that, the grief will not pass. And so I do accept it.
It is time for us to move on. The past is buried in soil abused by generations of misuse and short-term profiteering. The people have become disconnected from one another, adopting a dog-eat-dog attitude where the biggest, baddest dog gets the biggest bone, and the rest are out of luck. That's not acceptable for anyone seeking a future. This place is like a mother that doesn't love her children, a place that can't let go of what it was, because it was so much more long ago.
Looking into the words I now find haunt me day and night, I see that while the fountain cannot be turned off once it begins, the flow of the fountain does change. It can gush or trickle, be hot or cold, sparkling or muddy. The fountain becomes a reflection of one's self and one's place. It's unavoidable. While the fountain may run slowly at times, to encourage that flow, it may help to change place. Location does matter. Place, too, is haunting.
Looking for a place where the spirit feels at home has become a major focus. I remember listening to the songs of trees, of spring's choir of urgent reproductive activity. The sound of owls and coyotes once punctuated the night, where loud motors and human voices now echo in my mind. It's a bar fight I want no part of, as intoxicating as the words are, without fail.
The sole consolation is a nearby band of shaggy little asses, a small herd of domesticated donkeys who raise their melancholy song along with a local rain crow and distant whippoorwill. The owl population is much reduced, going from great horned owls to a pair of tiny, skittish screech owls.
Looking for the song of one's self is a lonely hunt. It cannot be denied.