Birdsong and Crickets: Dealing with Introspection

I’m sitting on the porch in the early morning hours. It’s not exactly dark, despite the pre-dawn hour. The neighborhood has a few street lights. I can see my coffee cup on the table next to me well enough to find it without dunking fingers or knocking it over.

The air resonates with a myriad of birds singing. The high buzz of insects calling provides contrapoint to their melody. Quiet countryside? No one who has ever sat and listened like this would say so.

I had my husband with me for a time, the quiet murmur of our voices don’t disturb the birds in the slightest. We talk about foolishness like coffee pots, and holidays, and painting. The birds call for love, reproduction of their kind, and territorial claims to feed their family. The big, important stuff.

Porch Cat has decided my lap is her territory. She’s a warm lump of fur with an almost indiscernible purr. The First Reader went inside, but I am loathe to evict the affection-starved cat. Or lose hearing the symphony of life as performed by the birds and crickets all around me.

We all need times like this. The still, quiet times where we can live inside our own head. It’s hard to switch off the nagging ‘this needs to be done, and that, and the other thing!’ But it is worth the effort to give my internal Self a little room to stretch, contemplate the state of the interior, and be renewed to dive back into life.

Last weekend I got to touch my clan. I was reading last night – ok, most of yesterday. My dear friend told me to buy a book. She rarely does something like that, so I just said ok and got it. Then I meant to take it in doses, but it was compelling. Disturbing, too. However one of the premises caught me and got me thinking.

“mammals can calm their heart rate and reduce the physical costs of stress by seeking reassuring contact with others of their kind.”

Goodness knows people are not animals. People are, as much as we introverted types like to pretend not, clannish. My clan? A specific brand of geeky sciency folks I get to see about once a year. Twice, on a good year. That’s a long time to make do without hug refills.

It’s not that my family isn’t good enough. It’s that my role isn’t to draw comfort from my children, although I do find them comforting, and my husband, although his presence is vital to my peace of mind. It’s that we all need communal gatherings, it’s the emotional connection that is “something so basic to humans that some of the worst punishments ever devised include shunning, ostracism, solitary confinement, and exile.”

Humanness. It’s a concept I come back to again and again in my writing. What marks us as human? What makes life worth living? Dying is easy. Life…. has its rewards, but if we are honest, they are hard won. The book I’ve been reading was, I thought at first, supposed to help me support my children. The further I got into it, the more I saw myself in some of the descriptions. It makes sense of this thing I have been struggling with, feeling alone even in the midst of my loving family.

“They read people closely, looking for signs that they’ve made a connection. This isn’t a social urge, like wanting people to chat with; it’s a powerful hunger to connect heart to heart with a like-minded person who can understand them. They find nothing more exhilarating than clicking with someone who gets them. When they can’t make that kind of connection, they feel emotional loneliness.”

It’s all good. Having words for my feelings helps. Not to mention a cat doing cleaning aerobics in my lap. My tank is full from the con, and I have plans to keep it from getting so empty in the future. What helps is knowing what’s going on. Fear and terror is fighting the unknown. Put a name on a thing, give it a shape, and the monster can be defeated.

Also, a lap cat is a formidable weapon in this battle.

(quotes are from Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gibson)