Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Wild Inexplicable:


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Months and months ago, maybe even years by now, I sat in a pharmacy waiting to get a script filled.

I don't know when she came across my vision, what she looked like or what she wore. I only remember that she looked about three years old, it was winter outside, and that she appeared to be fascinated by a stack of water-bottles standing, each on top of the other, on a set of round shelves in the centre of the pharmacy.

Fascinated - in that she kept staring at them, so I kept staring at her wondering why.

She continued to wait for her mother while observing the bottles and so I turned my gaze from flickering between them and her, to just the bottles.

I noticed the way the light glinted on the round edges of the plastic, gold, blue, white and silver, shimmering. I noticed the way the rounded edges made it hard to see exactly where each bottle ended. I noticed many things about that stack of bottles, and before the little girl asked her mother the question I already had, in my mind, begun to wonder what it was she was seeing - and I let my own imagination play with my minds eye and possibility: Did she look and see a selection of floating white-gold orbs, marked round by the silvery blue-white shadow cast from the fluroescent light above us? And, how would she see those bottles in her memories in years to come?

So I was both fascinated and satisfied when she asked:

'What are those?' And her mother returned a quizzical look and said:

'Water-bottles.' Her expression suggested she wanted to leave the store.

I left elated. I had found my daily dose of happiness and curiosity within the mind of a three year old girl fascinated by the play of light and shadow on a stack of water bottles in a pharmacy.

Why? Because who hasn't experienced those confused childhood memories? Where a bike is bigger in memory, or  house with a simple staircase seems like a a marbled mansion with a great entrance hall. It is evidence of that wild, unexplored mind we so often find ourselves shut off from as we get older, learn more words, more concepts through which to frame things, and discover that a world like ours could ever become such a thing as, 'boring'.

Or stale, and made so by language and concepts that at first seem freeing but often lay for us a delicate trap, attempting to make the wild inexplicable precisely explicable. Attempting to corrode experiential narrative into relatable narrative - though it is indeed relatable, no language but maybe art has ever come close to relating it back in a way that is anything short of what Hunter S Thompson titled, 'the blind leading the blind', or maybe a personal brand of synesthesia.

I went home that day and tried to relate back my fascination with the fascination of that little girl, the child whose mind was not tethered by concept and the trap of language, but of course that would be impossible, because even now - years later - I doubt I can even still transfer that fascination into language - it would be like putting the last Bengal tiger in a zoo, it's no longer a tiger, is it? Just something, some small piece of history, evolution and idea for humans to ogle at. My experiences cannot really be shown in words, only in feeling, maybe. Perhaps that is why my mind so quickly turned to bubbles, elated, rising, flowing, forming, freeing, when seeing that there are still people in this world who are fascinated.

If I were able to capture it in language though, this feeling would not exist. It's like Peter Pan trying to sew his shadow to his feet. Hence why this short essay is so lacking.

Ellen