Alone With My Dignity

I have tried to show muskrats to other people, but it rarely works. No matter how quiet we are, the muskrats stay hidden. Maybe they sense the tense hum of consciousness, the buzz from two human beings who in silence cannot help but be aware of each other, and so of themselves. Then to, the other people invariably suffer from a self-consciousness the prevents their stalking well. It used to bother me, too: I just could not bear to lose so much dignity that would completely alter my whole way of being for a muskrat. So I would move or look around or scratch my nose, and no muskrats would show, leaving me alone with my dignity for days on end, until I decided that it was worth my while to learn – from muskrats themselves – how to stalk.

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p. 201

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