Today, at the end of the longest day of the year, I found myself watching bats. They looked remarkably like Halloween fake bats flying by, with their little rounded, furry bodies and their scalloped, flapping wings. I have a memory of standing with my father in the garden when I was little and him pointing out the bats to me...and they filled the whole sky, the wings of each bat spanning broader than our yard was wide, huge. This is not literary hyperbole but a genuine trick of memory; they were 747's of bats, coming on down the length of the garden west to east like storm clouds, the way the Goddess of Evening comes in, in Fantasia. I was not at all frightened, probably because at the time I saw them as they actually were, small, and they only inflated in memory.
I like bats. I like that they are mammals, like me, and yet so different. Aside from the whole flying thing, which is awesome enough, there is the prospect of living in a world of air and sound, dodging this way and that for flying insects...and they wake up at night. Daylight just seems like such a wakeful thing to me, but to them it means time to sleep. We live in the same world, and yet we don't.
These bats today fluttered this way and that between me and the row of white pines, and on the other side of those pines was a sunset yellow and orange like splotches of organic, free-range egg, and I did, indeed find myself. I've been doing that a lot lately. I look up and I notice the wind in the green trees, or a soft, brown caterpillar with two pale stripes walks across the grass in front of me, or a small, round black beetle alights on my laptop and I see it has round, yellow spots. I've been asleep, preoccupied, psychologically busy, for too long, and I'm waking up, decompressing, finding myself by finding things outside myself, or letting them find me. Is this why I've been so unproductive lately? Something in me needs to rest and wake up?
I don't think I could be a workaholic if I wanted to, just like I couldn't be fashionable if I wanted to, or...normal if I wanted to. It's inconvenient, sometimes, and there are upsides to all of the things I can't do...as I hope you know, given how much and how hard you work. I hope that has meaning to you; it has meaning to us. I only mean that there are things I can't seem to make myself do, and I really hope there is room in the gap, in the set of things I can do, for a good and noble life for me. I don't know...and maybe I won't know. I've known people who consider themselves failures for no good reason at all, and of course the public arena appears to be full of folks who are quite satisfied as to their own goodness even though they are busy destroying lives and ecosystems....This week, for myself, I feel pretty bad about myself. I don't always--I'm often pretty chipper. But this week I just feel a bit like a failure. An incipient failure, perhaps. I'm not concerned about it, though; I already know feelings are unreliable, they come and go like the weather. And meanwhile, rain or shine, there are deadlines to meet and my thesis to finish, dogs to walk and clean up after, and on and on. If I must be depressed, I shall not be depressed about being depressed. If I must worry, I shall not worry about my worrying. Untangle the knots, move the mutually reflective mirrors out of alignment, step out of the echo chamber of my own mind, and watch bats.
Bats navigating the chattering silence of their supersonic world.
And from you, a silence. I have not heard from you lately. I expected to, though perhaps without reason. I know you are busy generally, and perhaps something has come up, so in and of itself a period of silence is neither unusual from you nor cause for special concern. But in this virtual world of words and posts and updates without location, those who do not speak become effectively invisible. So I send my words out into the electronic night hoping that even if I do not hear you speak, I might at least hear an echo, and find out where you are.