Saturday, April 26, 2008

the best kind of soap

most of the time we shuffle and squirm through life altogether ignorant (willingly and happily so) of anything that's not happening right in front of our faces. even more outside our realm of giving-a-shit are the things that don't fuel our evermore pressing compulsion to achieve, succeed, acquire. we're busy rushing about viewing the outside world and all of it's constituent parts largely as obstacles standing between where we are and where we need to be. in this way, we seldom recognize that there are millions of people around us all busy in their little circles as they push past you to put checkmarks on their own to-do lists. paul haggis expressed through one of the characters he created in his screenplay for the movie crash, "we're always behind this metal and glass. (we) brush past people, people bump into you...nobody touches you. when you're moving at the speed of life, we're bound to collide with each other."

though the collisions that haggis portrays in his work are dramatic, desperate, and violent, they can also be as innocuous as being privy to a momentary glimpse into someone else's life by accident. it's those accidental moments that tend to pull me from my destination-driven habitudes and allow me to revel in the fact that we're all putting one foot in front of the other the same way and that our commonalities far outweigh our differences.

two of those accidental instances of what we'll call "circumstantial voyeurism" came for me recently while walking our dog in a local dog park. as i've indicated in previous posts, i try to make it a practice to keep at least one eye cast groundward everywhere i go and, on this day, it paid off. crumpled under a bench was quite possibly the best note i've ever intercepted:

for so many reasons this little view into someone else's life made me smile. i love visualizing the "liar" spending the day blowing off whatever they were supposed to be doing to be at a park enjoying the sunshine. it's also hard not to enjoy thinking about the bratty sibling going to the trouble to find out that the dentist was closed just to hammer the "liar."...and who among us can't identify with the sentiment (and flawless delivery) of the last line? it's perfect! the note is perfect, the serendipitous finding of it was perfect, and the respite it gave me from my own troubles was especially perfect.

the second opportunity to engage in my "circumstantial voyeurism" came several days later in the same dog park. amidst our frolic in the park, i saw a folded paper winking at me from the mulch at the base of some adolescent oak saplings. although not nearly as entertaining as the note about the "liar," this one offered it's own inspiration:

most of the grocery/to-do list is unremarkable but the real gem of inspiration comes right there at the end when the note's author lists a cleaning ritual that i'm sure freud would have quite a lot to say about. who among us wouldn't love to wash our guilt from time to time? where can i get THAT kind of soap? (i'm sure there's a joke about hanging from a clothesline to be made here too but i digress)

these episodes present themselves all the time if you're paying attention and the only limit to what you get out of them is your own imagination and willingness to submit to them. if you can't find these opportunities on your own, at least take advantage of glimpses collected by others at places like the Post Secret blog or Found magazine! i'm no preacher and i'm certainly no fount of...well...anything...but i do encourage embracing that "circumstantial voyeurism" when you get the chance. sometimes it's refreshing to step outside what you're doing, welcome that little collision of lives, and walk in someone else's freudian slippers.