I wish I could regularly walk like I’m lost. I want to look up at the sky, meandering without purpose, instinctively slipping past the other people on the sidewalk – people who walk, like I do in actuality, like they had somewhere to be five minutes ago, especially if they didn’t. Walking like that deflects attention and precludes conversation. It’s practical, it’s easy, and it creates moments that are no sooner experienced than forgotten. Aware of the people around you, the storefront canopies overhead, and the incessant sounds of cars just a few feet away, nothing else registers. The noise is the experience.
With daily life often overflowing with nothing but background noise, I think about how constant awareness is not all it’s cracked up to be. Just be present, the internet told us a couple years ago, and your quality of life will improve. It certainly depends on what you’re present for, but I think in a lot of cases increased presence just means your head is filled with more debris than it would be otherwise. More context for a subject that has yet to reveal itself.
Because of the deafening level of white noise provided by 1) office life and 2) the internet, I’ve become fascinated by the idea of compelling things free of context (even ones designed to be that way). Iceland provided one such curiosity. In the gift shop of Reykjavik’s Harpa concert hall, I came across this beautiful boy, hilariously named “Fred.” There was nothing else – no indication of who Fred was or what intellectual property he was attached to. I knew nothing other than that I loved Fred. I was ready to believe that Fred was a standalone character that just existed to grace the three stickers in that gift shop, and nothing else. And the strange part is that the truth wasn’t that far off. Continue reading “The frail beauty of curiosities without context”