I woke the other night with heart racing. Half past midnight on a dark country night, a couple of kilometres from the nearest streetlight and someone had walked up our back stairs. I lay there undecided. Do I get up to see what they want? Do I wait for the doors to rattle? Why would anyone go to the back door? Did they need help? Thank goodness Mr. Blithe had spent a weekend fixing ill-fitting doors.
The steps receded and were followed by thumps, scratching and banging. Okay, probably not a person, but big. They don’t have bears here do they? Mr Blithe looked out the study window. Nothing. I looked out the front. Nothing. He positioned himself by a window with a torch while I turned on the outside front light.
There. And…there! Two dogs trying to dig their way into the garage after something tasty. Foolish perhaps because it is open at the front, more of a car port than a garage. Without a sound they circled off behind the shed. Turning on the back light sent them silently off over the fields, one leaping high in short absurd bounces to see its way over the tall grass.
Back to bed, every sound keeping me awake. Lying there in the dark I understood a little perhaps of the fear of someone new to a place. I have doors, locks, windows with glass, solid walls. What if I were in a bark hut or some sort of shelter made from twigs and grass and I heard things in the night? Things that made sounds I had never heard before. Things that I had never seen or imagined.
I think that you’d have to learn to control your imagination. To only deal with real things as they happened. To react and act on a daily basis and not think too much about the future. To become in some ways a short-term thinker. And then how would you get out of that mentality? How would you shift from a mode of danger and living day to day to a more settled mode? Would you ever learn to think in a more strategic, less reactionary way? Would you be able to plan for the future? How many generations would it take to change modes of thinking and what impact would it have on society in general?
These, and adrenalin, are the thoughts that keep me awake at half past midnight on a dark country night.