Feathers to feathers, air to air

I’ve had a very strange morning. It didn’t start out very strange. Well, that’s not entirely true. For one, I slept less than my boyfriend, and got up BEFORE my room-mate! Both of these things are very uncommon for me. To explain why I got up so early, I need to back up a little.

Of late, I’ve started getting aches and pains and a bunch of disturbingly crackling and popping noises in my knees, hip, back, shoulders and neck. It got worse with time so I went to the doctor. The doctor sadly didn’t say that all I need is good love, instead she claimed that if I simply started exercising more all of these problems would go away. Apparently if you experience joint-problems, running, biking and swimming is going to help, because the more stress you put on them, the better. Oh the logic. Anyway, even though I’m not entirely convinced the exercise will solve all these problems, I figured it also wouldn’t really hurt. (I wasn’t entirely correct there either, since my knees feel a little worse for the wear now, but according to the good doctor I should be getting better so I’m going to keep doing this for a while.)

So I got a membership card that covers all of the public swimming-pools in the Stockholm area, a swimsuit that doesn’t look completely indecent and went on my merry way to become healthier. I signed up three days ago and I’ve swum every day since. I love swimming, the water is calming, the motion is tiring but also relaxing and there is just something so tranquil and euphoric about floating, half weightless, in those blue waters. All I really need now is to find a time when the pool isn’t teeming with people. I’d prefer a bit more privacy and a bit more space to swim around in.

That’s why I went this morning. Saturdays they have an hour and a half, women only. So I figured that a) there would be less people there (I was wrong) and b) at least someone wouldn’t be gawking at me as I was trying to fix my joint-problem. 7:30 sharp I dragged myself hastily out of bed, had a quick shower, a bowl of yoghurt with honey and a glass of orange-juice. I checked my mail, glanced over the facebook updates and headed out the door. I was a little behind schedule, and in my hurry I almost missed it.

One step ahead of me up the sets of stairs between our apartment buildings and the little pathway leading down to the subway there was a bird. A tiny bird, lying perfectly still on the step, almost invisible in its grey and brown against the stone of the steps. I froze. The bird didn’t move, but its eyes appeared to narrow just a little. I thought for a moment. What to do? The bird might already be dead, but if it wasn’t, could I save it? I was running late for my swim. I stuck the cigarette in my mouth and walked past the bird. I stopped five steps later, cursing under my breath. I have this problem where if there is someone in need, human or animal of other kind, or even a half-dying plant, I need to help them to the best of my abilities. I couldn’t just let the bird lie there if it could still be saved.

So back to the apartment I ran, found a plastic bottle-cap and filled it with liquid honey and lukewarm water, got some breadcrumbs from the cupboard above the fridge and then headed back out, carefully and slowly so as not to spill any of the honey-water. In my head the little bird first stared at the cap to determine whether I was trying to poison it or not, then drank from it, slowly regaining health and strength until it’d fly away. I reached the steps. My little feathered protegé was lying in an awkward position, head against the ground, and I just knew. In the three or so minutes it had taken me to get the water and bread from my place and return, the little fellow had died. I was devastated, and a little grossed out. In one last, futile attempt, I put the cap down next to its head and spread the crumbs around it. I knew the bird was dead but if there was any hope, I wasn’t going to take my chances.

I went swimming and on my return the little one was still lying there. Confused as to what to do I tried calling the sup, but it being a Saturday he was of course not in his office. I then called my boyfriend, despairing over what to do. I knew I should really put it in a plastic bag and just dispose of it in the trash but I really didn’t want the little guy to go that way. No-one should ever have to be put in the trash. So after some mental dialogue, I threaded some bags over my hand and dug out a big bird-feather that Selon had dragged home one day on one of his little adventures. Back at the steps for the fourth time today, I looked, and the bird wasn’t lying next to the cap anymore. For a second, I thought someone had moved it, maybe buried it as I intended to, but then I saw him lying to the side of the steps. Like someone had just kicked him out of the way.

I gingerly picked him up with my makeshift lab-gloves and carried him off to some secluded location. I was amazed at how very light he was. I grew up on a farm so on occasion I’ve had to move dead mice from the traps, and they are heavy buggers, but this little bird weighed next to nothing, and it made me even more sad somehow. After a few minutes of walking, I saw a rocky elevation in the forest next to the road. What better place to bury a bird than high up? I climbed it, drenching my flats in the process, and put the little one down on a tuft of grass in the middle of the rise. Then I placed the big bird-feather over him. “I hope you had a good life” I told him, looking at the tiny eye, still wondering if it was going to come back to life at any minute, and then walked off.

It’s strange how something so very random, something that should be of no concern to us, can move us so very deeply, and make such a strong impression. I felt horrible over that second where I almost walked away without even trying to save this little bird, and then I went out of my way to make sure it would have the best bird-funeral in history. If it wasn’t for my joints I’d never have gone to the doctor, and then in turn I would probably not have picked up swimming, and if I hadn’t I would not have stepped outside today, or if I had, maybe at a later time, when I would not have seen the little brown and grey feather-ball against the brown leaves and slush next to the steps where someone kicked it out of the way. So the little bird is gone, but his presence did not go unnoticed, for in his memory lie some breadcrumbs on the stone-steps, next to a bubble-gum pink bottle-cap filled with honey-water.

Let him without sin

So I was on the subway the other day, on my way into town to work a shift on a new job as a wardrobe girl at the house of Dance in Stockholm. I forgot to bring a book and my iPod was out of battery so I just sat staring out the window pretending to ignore people, as it is polite to do when you’re squished into a small space with complete strangers. A stop some 10 minutes from where I was getting off these two guys got on. I didn’t look up but they sat down next to me and continued their ongoing conversation. “I just can’t watch a movie with my girlfriend. She watches the crap on channel 5 and she can’t focus on anything. Now when you’re watching that mindless junk and zone out for a bit you can just come right back and not miss a thing, but when we’re watching movies and she does that she misses the entire plot and just doesn’t understand anything.” “Yeah man, I hear you, my girlfriend’s the same. She just doesn’t understand the plot.”

I felt like agreeing with them. I myself have a tendency to be so into a movie I watch that I oftentimes comment too often or make exclamations regarding this or that. It doesn’t have anything to do with too little engagement but rather too much, and it must be very annoying for people who like to watch a movie in silence. But then the guy who sat across from me said “Yeah, she watches crap like Mad Men. I’ve heard it’s some kind of 50ies show and it’s just popular because one of the actresses has big boobs.” I froze in my seat and took some deep breaths. I haven’t seen Mad Men myself but I have read and heard enough to know that it’s gotten several awards (checking imdb here it’s a total of 56 awards out of 116 nominations, 4 out of those Golden Globe awards, 4 Emmy’s, countless this-or-that-Guild award, need I go on?). Now. When the people who are qualified to nominate and award tv-shows do so and select them the best out of all the other nominees, that tends to count for something.

Basically this – now douche to me – man was saying that because he had heard – from an unspecified source, probably another douche friend – that Mad Men was not worth watching, he wasn’t going to watch it, but was going to inform other people of how bad the show was. I was flabbergasted. Because it struck me just how often people do this very thing. We judge before we have anything to go on, judge instantly and without hesitation, without even noticing we do, and then we go on to inform the world about this personal opinion as if it was some kind of general truth. What? WHAT? I wanted to punch the guy right then and there, and tell him that I felt bad for his girlfriend that she was dating a guy who was not only pretentious but amazingly biased and misinformed. For God’s sake people, if you’re going to be pretentious then at least be pretentious about something you actually know a lot about!!!!!

So there I was, fuming with rage over something that happens so very often. Instead of taking our time to think for ourselves, to asses the situation, to gather all the facts and look at something before we dismiss it as irrelevant, bad, wrong, cruel and so on, we just instantly jump to conclusions… and then stick with them! We’ll listen to other people’s values and opinions as if they were actual facts and truths, and as I think I’ve pointed out before, truth is relative! It is this kind of ignorance and split-second judgement that makes things such a discrimination based on ethnic or social background, age, sex, sexual preferences and religion possible. This is why we will never have peace and harmony, because we only say “we are different” and not “we are different and so what?” or “we are different, how great, imagine the possibilities!”

One of the main reasons people tend to jump to conclusions so very fast is because we hold our own intellect and intelligence in too high a regard. Even people who claim to think of themselves as stupid or of less than average intelligence do this. It’s inevitable, because if we constantly doubt our judgement and our system of values we can’t get out of bed in the morning, or breathe, for fear of there being something wrong with that. So of course, for the sake of survival, people must be able to make split-second decisions and judgement-calls. It makes sense. But when such a thing isn’t a necessity, why don’t we take some more time to actually look into something before we dismiss it? To have more than just a few facts about a person before we decide who they are? To learn some more about a situation before you judge the people who are in it?

I am as guilty of this as anyone. In most cases, we’ll only ever refrain from judging if we’ve been in a similar kind of situation as the one under scrutiny. But what if we stop for a few seconds before we go bad/good, wrong/right, pretty/ugly, true/false, just stop for a few more seconds, think “hey, do I know enough about this to make a proper judgement?” or “could I have done that had I been in that persons situation?” and then maybe, somewhere along the line, the world will just be a little bit brighter, a little bit smarter, and a little less judgemental. I don’t say this often but Jesus, if that was you in the Bible with the no-casting-of-stones scenario, then kudos, and nicely done.

Into this wild abyss

First off I’d like to apologise for yet another long absence, this time brought about by a joyful visit from none other than sleeplessknight – another blogger on WordPress – mostly consisting of watching horror-movies in the hotel-room, trying mattresses at IKEA and being very cold a lot of the time , followed by a few days of work and a pain-in-the-a** cold which has me sneezing and snotting like no other. The cold is still very much present but I don’t really need to do anything tomorrow so maybe I’ll have time to get well now.

Anyway, as so often happens, a thought struck me as I was going about my regular business and doing something completely mundane. In this case walking home from the grocery-store. I looked down on the snow and saw my shadow, split in three. This little bubbly, hazy thought popped into my head. “Huh, funny how the absence of something, in this case light, can actually create something else, in this case the shadow.” At first the thought floated around in my head for a bit and I looked at it bemused, thinking how pretty it was. Then my brain stopped dead in its tracks. Yes.

The absence of something always creates something else! The absence of material creates a hole. The absence of air creates a vacuum! Needless to say, my brain kept going in these tracks, then swung right back around. The absence of materia creates a hole where that materia should be. Then maybe, just maybe it works the same way with people? That when someone say “I miss you so much it hurts” it actually does, because the absence of that person in their lives has created a gaping, person-shaped hole in the space of their brain where they keep that person, whenever it’s present?

By this definition, anti-matter could not exist. Because as soon as we give something a name, we turn it into something, and in order for something to not be anything, we need to not know about it, not be able to see it, to define it, to name it. Anything that we are aware of therefore is forced to exist, at least on our own level of consciousness.

Sorry, slightly off track there. Just got too exciting.

Anyway, let’s say that when a person isn’t in our lives anymore, whether we’re separated by death, distance or separating ourselves from one another, there’s a hole left. In the case of a break-up, the classical rebound boy/girlfriend is often applied, much like a band-aid. The band-aid is nothing like the wound itself but it does a good job covering it up and making us forget that it’s there at all. A funeral is much like an operation, where we go through a ritual to leave a part of us behind, and a marriage adds a part to us in a more constant manner. Oftentimes we try to replace the person we miss with other people, be it friends, lovers, substitutes for grandparents or pets, wherever we turn we try to find solace and someone who will make the previous hole heal, or appear to be filled.

Some people try to fill the hole with hobbies and new interests. Sometimes the hole is easier forgotten if we move to a new place and surround ourselves by new things. Some people literally eat to fill the hole, some drink themselves into oblivion. Very few people let the hole be there and just live with it as it is. Being humans, when something is incomplete or lacking, it bothers us, even on the subconscious level of a hole left in our souls by a person missing.

What would happen if we didn’t try to fill that hole, weren’t so dead set on making it heal or hiding it? If we just let the hole be what it is, an absence of someone, would that be so bad? People adapt to everything, they adapt to losing their sight, hearing, a limb, the ability to walk, so then why not to losing someone who we are so strongly attached to? True, in the cases of losing ones senses and limbs, we often find replacements, something not quite as good as the original thing but sufficient enough that we can get by without it. But if we just let the hole be there, if we accept it as an absence of person, then maybe, after days, months, years, we’ll find something else in its place. Be it vacuum, cavity, silence or blank, the hole will eventually turn into something else, if we only look at it long enough and accept it for what it is.

Who knows, one day that hole just might become a shadow, the shadow left of the light that was cast upon the person who once stood in it, and in that shadow we may find peace.