A friend of mine told me last week that she couldn't wait to read what I'm working on: It's a chance to walk around inside your brain, she said. It's going to be so interesting!
I didn't tell her that there's not all that much inside my brain lately, just wondering where I misplaced the tea, and oops I accidentally blew two hours watching trailers on imdb.com, again. I didn't tell her how I waste time watching birds pick their way through the backyard. And also how I spy on my neighbors (not with binoculars so I hope I'm not too weird), how I obsess over the tiniest details of my day.
That is what's inside my brain, it seems.
But--I really do know what she means, too. Reading what someone else has written--it's an incredible experience, right? In On Writing, Stephen King calls it telepathy: "We're not even in the same year together, let alone the same room . . . except we are together. We're close. We're having a meeting of the minds."
A meeting of the minds. It makes me shiver a little. And it's true: which is why a good book, a good mind meeting, can quench loneliness.
I discovered this in college when my best friends were traveling and I felt abandoned. I curled up in front of a common room fireplace, with a book of personal essays. I read Seneca and Max Beerbohm and Charles Lamb and G. K. Chesterton. All of them dead, obviously, but I felt like I was in a room crowded with uncles, all of them outspoken, dropping pipe tobacco (um, except Seneca?) and giving me advice and making me laugh.
Books and writing... It's telepathy. Brain exploration. Minds meeting.
And just darn good company.