Author: Soramimi Hanarejima

When the Bureau of Introspection discovered how to photograph the landscapes within us, we were all impressed that this terrain, which had only been visible in dreams, could be captured and viewed by anyone. This struck us as a huge leap, but toward what, we couldn’t say. We thought seeing our own landscapes would tell us.

So as soon as the technology was commercially available for a reasonable price, we all bought the special cameras and took as many pictures as we could afford given the cost of film and developing. We were eager to see as much as possible of the worlds within ourselves. Some of us, we learned, had a single landscape that stretched on and on. Others had as many as 7 landscapes, with little ones tucked within large ones.

But even with the countless photos that have now been taken and studied, we still don’t know where this technology is taking us, and the Bureau of Introspection still hasn’t figured out what the landscapes mean. One possibility, they say, is that the terrain within us doesn’t have any special significance and is simply there.

None of that matters to you. You’ve never been interested in whether your inner landscapes hold any meaning, but you’re still very interested in finding out what animals live there. You’re convinced that our landscapes have to be ecosystems, and you continue to stand in front of your tripod-mounted camera at least three times a day, trying—hoping to catch animals drinking at the lakeshore or crossing the meadow or otherwise making themselves visible.

But you never do, despite having taken hundreds of pictures. Either you’re unlucky with your timing or there are no animals. To know one way or the other, you’ll have to wait for technology that can record video of our inner landscapes.

Though they’re devoid of animals, all the pictures you’ve amassed do show you something that interests you: your landscapes changing over swaths of days. We know that our landscapes have day-night cycles and seasons—can feel them turning from dark to bright, going from chilly to warm—but rarely does anyone get to know those rhythms to the degree you’re able to. With all the images you’ve collected, you determine that the lake has a roughly 46-hour day, the coast a 1.5-week day, the forest and its meadow a 10-hour day; the grassland is always a season ahead of the lake, speckled with wildflowers while the frozen water is blanketed by snow; at the coast, it’s always summer—or summer there is very long.

On a whim, you begin arranging your schedule according to the times of day and year in your landscapes. You sit quietly during lake-time sunrises; only go out with friends when the ocean of your coastline is sparkling with daylight; make it a point to work on creative projects during the meadow’s rainy season. Soon, conducting your life this way becomes a habit, one that you refine until the alignment of your activities with your landscapes’ cycles feels right.

“Maybe that’s what they’re for,” you say. “Or that’s one of the things they offer us. A way to create some structure in our lives.”

The sandstone canyon around us recedes to the background of my thoughts, yielding to the image conjured by your words: the sky just above your ocean a ribbon of deep red that’s slowly, imperceptibly fading. We always go on hikes like this when the sun is setting over your coast. Each one has been a refreshing trek down a new trail that’s brought us unexpected delights. Elk grazing under a double rainbow. Snow geese wading in a flooded field. Hillside shrubs covered with frost sparkling in the late afternoon sunlight as though the bare twigs were coated in diamond dust. Sights I want to remember seeing with you.

So, taking a cue from you, I decide that tonight I’ll try linking these memories to places in my woods—that time we stared at the pygmy owl with, say, the fallen tree that lies across the rocky stream bed. This will turn the pictures I’ve taken into reminders of hikes with you. Then, with ease, my attention returns to the canyon’s steep sunlit walls, alert to anything in this landscape that I might later connect to one within me.