He sat at the red light and let his eyes drift between planes of focus. Like a camera fading into a movie’s scene, his focus changed from the specs of dirt and bird shit on the windshield to the trees blowing in the soft wind. Everywhere was calm around him, yet his head rushed with the thousand voices of a waterfall, if a waterfall was instead powered by thoughts and not water.
“Come on,” he said aloud, “it’s my turn.”
Finally the light changed. He wasn’t sure if it was the kind of stop-light that senses whether you and your car are “there” or not, but he cursed it for not “seeing” him. He didn’t even notice that the stop-light cursed him back for equally “not seeing” it.
It was tiring at work because he had nothing to do. It was a long day because he was bored. Like his eyes, he drifted from one thing to the other, never quite settling… never quite focusing. Never being quite “there”.
The guys at work weren’t very helpful. They too were busy jumping from one thing to the next to be of any help for him. He cursed his freedom in his job, but then he praised it. He was feeling angry for what? Being left alone? How many people would kill to be left alone during their work day? And here he was, wandering the lumber yard like a single mother wanders between the baby and a good book.
“Come on,” he said to the forklift. It had jumped a little when he hit the uneven graveled road that was “the yard” and shifted the heavy load he was carrying. It was sketchy. A board teetered and threatened to fall. He was tense and held his breath. He didn’t realize that the forklift was equally tense and held its breath too.
The load was lowered, the board’s suicidal attempt was prolonged. The project of sorting wood was established. This 6×6 goes here and this 4×4 goes there. Let’s put these 1×8’s up front where there are some like it under a roof and out of the rain.
His mind was distracted. His thoughts were preoccupied. It was what the mind wants: to be busy. To have something to do.
Then he blinked and he was at home. He remembers all the way from the lumberyard to home, he remembers going to the pub and getting a drink, he just didn’t feel like he was “there” until now.
And now that he was “here,” he was suddenly aware how loud it was in the quietness of his apartment. How busy his mind was, even after he sat down.
He breathed and felt like he had been holding his breath for a very long time. He listened to the buzz of the refrigerator and felt that he was listening for the first time all day. And here is where he liked to play a game. He liked to, now that he was looking, notice all the beautiful things that surrounded him now.
There was the way all the walls in the apartment were covered in impossible texture that held as many shapes and faces as the clouds. There was the color shading in the sky outside: how many different colors could that sky hold? (Yes, perhaps there is only one word (blue), but how many colors is the sky truly a part of? Not only more than one, but more than two… and maybe even more than the common seven, just that we haven’t named all these colors yet.) There was the fake blue of the water bottle in contrast to the sky. There was the “crop circles in the carpet” that changed shape depending on which direction you swipe your finger.
And this was just vision!
What was beautiful, he realized, is so much more than what looks beautiful. He began to listen, to smell, to taste, and to feel where he was, which was sitting on the floor by the natural dying light of the sky to his right just outside the sliding glass doors. There are words to describe beauty, but words just point to the beauty. Words beguile the reader into seeing this beauty just as museums trick the eye into seeing art.
It is all around you. Don’t just take my word for it.