No miles of any measurement can separate your soul from mine
to Mrs. Ezra S Carr
Yosemite Valley, August, 5th, 1972
Your letter telling me to catch my best glacier birds and come to you and the Coast mountains makes me the more anxious to see you, and if you cannot come up I will have to come down, if only for a talk. My birds are flying everywhere, into all mountains and plains and climes and times, and some ducks are in the sea, and I scarce know what to do about it. I must see the Coast Ranges and the coast, but I was thinking that a month or so might answer the present, and then, instead of spending the winter in town, I would hide in Yosemite and write, or I thought I would pack up some meal and dried plums to some deep wind sheltered canyon back among the glaciers of the summits and write there and be ready to catch any whisper of ice and snow in these highest storms.
You anticipate all the bend and falls and rapids and cascades of my mountain life and I know that you say you truly about my companions being those who live with me in the same sky, whether in reach of hand or only of spiritual contact, which is the most real contact of all. I am learning to live close to the lives of my friends without ever seeing them. No miles of any measurement can separate your soul from mine.
by John Muir (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914)
from Letters to a Friend; Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr, 1866-1879
image – Krikit
Distance and Closeness
I found this passage in several books containing excerpts of John Muir’s letters to Jeanne Carr. The one I referenced here seems to be the most re-published and complete.
Muir met Jeanne and her husband Professor Ezra Carr when studying with them in college. She was a great friend and mentor, credited with introducing him to friends like Ralph Waldo Emerson and offering steadfast encouragement to journal about his experiences with nature.
Are you a friend?
I’ve had the good fortune to be acquainted with the kindness of others. When I was a new single parent someone I knew from a former employer started having us over for dinner a few times a month, sometimes for ramen noodles and veggies, sometimes for a veritable feast. I was very much alone as a parent. The companionship that came with those meals made a difference.
When I was a starving artist, first out on my own, one of the art workshops I went to was attended mainly by a group of close, long-time friends. They went out for lunch afterwards and when I was there, they insisted on taking me. For some, I was about the age of their kids. For others I was more like a surrogate grandchild. Those meals were more likely to be feasts – very helpful. Mostly, I listened to them. They made a point of asking about my interests and projects and really, really listened to me. One Christmas one of them brought a box full of little gifts and ceremoniously handed one out to everyone in the room. Mine was a little single-serving tea infuser, shaped like a teapot. 30 years later I still have it and feel encouraged.