Monday, August 24, 2009

He said...

"People can hear their inner voices with great clarity and live by what they hear..."

What a blessing it is to live this way. Often the clamor of daily life, or internal dialogue, can drown out the truth of our inner voices. Coming back to such a place takes work.

Careers, ambition, relationships - there is an endless onslaught of potential distractions from one's internal desires. I often become withdrawn from the world and what it wants from me, ignoring the phone and the emails and the texts, in an effort to let myself out.

Life in Livingston, Montana was featured in tonight's episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. Ranchers and cowboys alongside the occasional poet and painter make up the fabric of this "end of the line" town.  As one stricken with a lifelong case of wanderlust, I soaked up the swelling sense of freedom and independence Livingston's residents appeared to enjoy. 

As a woman, I wondered if I could live the life of these loner poets and writers. The reclusive lifestyle of authors there and elsewhere, like Jim Harrison or Thoreau, who have spent years tucked away in remote cabins or deeply wooded forests, is almost too seductive to resist. Alone with one's thoughts, constrained only by the body's wants of sleep and food, timelessness replaces seconds and minutes and hours. Writing and expression are safe to unfurl at will.

But, then, fear of physical harm creeps into my mind. Would it be safe for me, a 5'2" woman? Terrifying visions of being alone and attacked, too weak or small to defend myself, shatter my fantasy of the reclusive lifestyle these male writers, and readers for that matter, glorify and take for granted. Could such an environment provide refuge, a safe-haven, for my body and for my thoughts?

Even in On the Road with Kerouac, the same questions linger for me. What kind of real freedom would I feel traveling alone, hitchhiking in the rain on a deserted road to my next location? Is the ever present concern of imminent danger freedom? 

In some senses, my heart hurts when I read these heralded stories of free men. I envy their sex. I envy that they are not the subject of desire and conquest in the same way my same-sex sisters and I are. Sometimes, I wish I was one of these men.

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