Written by Aaron French
I contain many non sequitur thoughts, though I am not alone. We all think really weird shit. We wouldn’t admit it out loud, but we like to play with fire.
I’ve turned somewhat into my own secret agent. A voyeur of sorts, always observing the human condition. Hopelessness is the logical conclusion, but there is no point without hope, therefore I remain sanguine.
People ask often, ‘What did you do this weekend’?
Fuck I don’t know? I got to a point where I write it down on Monday morning so I can have fodder for small talk rather than rendering blank stares, yet this active form of recollection requires computing power I despereatly lack. Sometimes I just make things up. ‘Saw a movie.’
Our brains like to conserve energy, so the scientists say, those wizard arbiters of knowledge. Brains follow the path of least resistance. Light does the same thing as it travels through space. Mass has some gravitational effect causing light to bend and sweep and whirl through the universe much like how water trickles high to low and around obstacles on earth. There’s a little flash of god for you.
I feel as if I do interesting things, so its not humdrum boring holes in my brain. I try to keep the switch on, but I’m not a fucking yogi.
Distraction. Time & Place irrelevant: I ordered a burrito (way too hard to find in Paris) and sat facing a window overlooking a buzzing intersection. I must have looked like a zoo animal, but I was 71% sure the window was one-way, like one of those good-cop/bad-cop-mirror-on-one-side-window-on-the-other-side windows. I became enraptured watching the steady stream of people on the street below. I whipped out my notebook and began tally marking. My burrito began to cool.
Heads stuck in phone, oblivious to approaching buses (something like 40% of all specimens); smokers (26%); headphones in (12%).
When groups of two or more people walk together it is unusually likely that:
1. They wear bags on same shoulder;
2. their fashion choices are basically mirror images of some non-verbally agreed upon group identity down to the finest details;
3. if one is smoking so is the other & likewise w/r/t heads in phones;
4. there is always a leader by the margin of a half-step, usually the male in male-female tandems, though this is not always the case, as I find myself always a half-pace behind when walking with someone, male or female. It pisses me off on some inscrutable level, but I feel the energy required to overcome being a half-pace behind is not worth it, seeing as if I do speed up to overcome then the subject invariably speeds up as if I were pushing against them like two magnets of the same pole repelling, and generally I feel uncomfortable being the one who is a half-pace ahead anyways and so I start awkwardly fidgeting and slurring my words and thus the impossible dilemma of feeling as if I’m either being pulled on a leash or pulling the leash myself, or caught in the tantalizing middle. To duly note, there is an air of implacable distaste when groups of casual walkers have synchronized steps, and on some subliminal level groups reliably fall out of sync with an unwitting shuffling of feet, or a skip or jump or pause; some sort of hitch in their giddy-up. Regard the unearthly convention of marching bands or marching troops and the curious repulsiveness of seeing such harmonious tromping amongst Sunday strollers.
Most people don’t follow the very safe and helpful pedestrian crossing lights in France. They always have to be revolutionary and this is their little slice of day-to-day passive aggresive revolt on their existential quest to lackadaisically criticize, gossip and galavant. I’m from a one stop light town in U.S.A. where the functionality of a pedestrian cross light is futile. The single light perpetually blinks red, hangs on a wire above the middle of 5th & Main, sways in the wind. Cops troll for drivers doing rolling stops, always giving tickets to out of towners.
Here in Paris (the cosmopolitan cream pie of culture & superiority-complexes & bi-colored traffic lights), when a pedestrian does obey the flourescent signal, it is usually when no car is in sight and they stand there looking uncannily robotic. Out of hundreds of passersby, the one case worthy of reflecting a self-respecting species was a father holding his son’s hand, laughing, hopping across the white stripes, all while the green walking signal man was lit.
I noticed three kids eating burritos beside me had caught on to my spying. I, the perceiver, was now the perceived. I uncomfortably closed my notebook. My outward judgements had been too preoccupied to fill my avatar with a countenance of dignity. My observatory state of false hyper consciousness was too obsessed with me-as-center-of-the-universe.
Why then, does the sun’s wake always lead straight to me? I walk up and down the beach and no matter where I go its like a goddamn stalker yellow brick road laid out straight from me to the sun, and the yellow swath leads straight into the gut of anyone who bothers to look at it. Instead of looking at the sun, I was watching how others themselves were not looking at it. Light passing through vacant space, straight on forever, no planetary objects to warp dimensions so there can be no chaos, no beauty, no love.
But a shining light glimmers in the vast and vacant space. Hope among hopelessness, the father-son duo; there was something majestic in their shared loved, something pure in the light shining through them, there was sanctuary in their sincerity of the present, in their alertness, but also in their lack of it.