night homes

Originally posted on December 17, 2014.

Night homes…person lairs

A while ago I found myself, as we drove down the roads here in rural Maine, thinking about people and their homes. Somehow, these nights, watching the houses along the road, I realized how connected we are to all the other animals: how similar are our activities and purposes, I realize how similar our houses are to the dens of animals, how all of us in the animal kingdom, humans included, find ways to protect ourselves a bit from the elements. Our houses are like fox’s dens, like beaver homes, like nests, like burrows.

When I think about this, I realize how misguided it is for us to imagine that we are anything but members of the whole animal kingdom, one of many, a part of the whole.

Lately, I find myself looking at another aspect of all this. I see the lit up windows as we pass the houses. I make some quick and uninformed guess about what’s going on. Inside the window, a lamp, a plant, the vague silhouette of the inhabitant of the house, doing something I know nothing about: often one window lit up in an otherwise darkened house. It somehow seems a little lonely. Each person is going about his business inside of each solitary house. One can only guess what that person is doing or why. I see little bits of movement and then we drive on and drive by the next house, where someone else is doing something that may or may not be similar.

Somehow this seems like a metaphor about the whole human condition. We see little bits of each other. We only partially understand one another. We reveal little bits of ourselves. Little hints, just the lit up windows reveal little hints about the goings on in the houses, offer me incomplete and subjective guesses about the nature of other people. We are forever driving past each other in the dark and only partially and incompletely understanding one another.