I've heard the truth sets you free, but tonight, it's words. Just words. Written words. Of course, they're also truthful.
I'm thankful the notion of being an "outsider" is considered a saga, because that sure is what it feels like. I cringe at the word introvert, and I get it a lot. Mostly (at least, I'm assuming) because I like solitude. I like to be invisible. I like to write, and I'm more comfortable with it than speaking. I can go for days having no one but the horses and the birds and the wildflowers for company. Maybe I can go weeks, but I have never been lucky enough to try. People are hard to avoid. The other day, I was asked if the farm ever gets too quiet. Too quiet? What is too quiet? Nature is never quiet, even when it's still. I love quiet, but the rest of the world must not love it in every form. Quiet is something like peace, and peace can be very loud and very busy. It's peaceful running through a field at twilight bursting with Queen Anne's Lace. It's peaceful splashing around in a secluded waterfall nestled in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. It's peaceful listening to the coyotes sing to a harvest moon. It's peaceful watching the snow fall in a winter wood on the back of a horse. There is no other quiet as that.
So if you ask me if it ever gets too quiet, I will not have an answer for you, as you have also asked me if it ever gets "too peaceful." I will be forced to turn away. To say a silent prayer. To plead with God for forgiveness for both of us-you and me-and to convince myself and Him that such blasphemy was spoken with ignorance and not intent.
I feel trapped around people. I feel trapped on the phone. I feel trapped in a city. I feel trapped when I have an appointment, even if it's just for dinner.
A girl needs her freedom. A girl can be alone without feeling lonely. A girl can be an outsider without being an introvert.
However, this all gets very tricky when it's not safe for a girl to take a walk under the stars at midnight or explore a secluded trail on her own or even to be alone, to begin with. When fathers or friends or teachers or police officers tell you these things, you hear them and you understand: "it's not safe," but it's not that simple because you're also being told, "it's not safe to be yourself."
There is no worse feeling of entrapment as that.
For then you must be forcibly rescued, if you do not own a gun or have a black belt.
When I was little, and my father would not let me out to explore beyond the fenced yard, no matter my pleadings, he'd say, "it's not you I'm worried about, it's the rest of the world."
To a girl who prefers to depend on herself and isn't very patient waiting on or explaining to others—who knows herself well enough to know when it's time for adventure or work or rest or change or rejoicing or sorrow or play or dreams or a good long walk, all on her own—she'll wonder if it's still not better to just take her chances with the world. Although, this time, she'll have to do it in fear.
I've learned a lot about this from Sura, my wild zebra. A cowboy in California once told me that zebras would rather hang themselves on a fence than be tied to it. I can say from my experience with Sura that this is true, and I don't think it's unique to zebras, but rather to outsiders, in general, as sailors and birds and cowboys and whales would probably all choose the same fate, under the same circumstances.
Whenever Sura starts to look or act trapped, I know I've just asked him to do something he's not meant to be asked to do. Although I do not have a very strong affinity for people, I do have big strong male rescuers who are ready to step in and rescue. I love and appreciate them all so dearly. If only they would not look so betrayed when I tell them to leave their white horses alone. If only they knew that they're offering me something I'm simply not domesticated enough to accept.