….He lay curled up, hands clasped between his bent legs, unkempt hair spilling over a face aged and craggy from abuse, neglect and denial. The morning was chill, enough to make me shiver, as cocooned in the warmth of my warm car, I cringed as I thought how cold the pavement must feel beneath him.
… She was tiny, A hat was pulled tight around the greying coarse hair which framed her wrinkled face, clad in baggy jeans that pooled around her narrow waist and fell in folds around her legs. She moved furtively, a hat pulled down tight, eyes flickering and nervous, creeping down the moving escalator like a little mouse trying to escape the notice of a hungry cat.
… Moving confidently, cell pressed to his ear, suit pressed, sharp, fitting perfectly he strides through the mall like a prince, words staccato and loud, inviting attention and approbation for his person
People … varied, unique, convoluted and every single one different. We don’t see the stories behind the face they show to the world and while sometimes their stories are etched into the reality of their bodies and the worn realities of skin and health, that is only part of their tale.
The homeless man, one of many I see frequently stretched out on pavement around St. Michael’s Hospital – what is his story? I often think to myself; he was a child once, with innocent eyes and wonder waiting to be born, with a future unimagined and endless possibilities yet to be realized. Did he have a mother who looked at his little face with its unlined skin and fresh, questioning eyes and think how much she adored him? Did he have siblings who cuddled and fought and slept in warm puppy piles when winter nights drew close and the cold he now courted as his paramour was then an enemy?
What happened to that man? Was it bred in the bone that he would find the pavement of an uncaring city his home? Was it neglect or abuse or did he somehow lose his way during the tumultuous pubescent years and not find the inner strength to fight his way back?
The small, frail Asian woman with her ill-fitting clothes, clean and pressed, her furtive, frightened air, skittering down the escalator as I walked up with my morning coffee. Her limbs were so tiny, her small frame reminiscent of a frail child, her face so full of character that it entranced me and made my imagination soar. Did she begin her life in a small village, surrounded by rice paddies and a village that followed the cycle of sun and season? Was her birth greeted with regret because she was female and therefore less than? Her hands were strong and worn and capable I noted as we passed and her body, though frail, radiated a lean strength and I could tell in our fleeting encounter that she was no stranger to hard work.
I wondered what she thought of this country. Whether the customs and practices were alienating and perplexing… whether she had children and grandchildren and if so, if she retained her cultural imperatives or had time and proximity opened her eyes to different possibilities.
And the boy, striding purposefully through the mall, a young knight, arrogant and self important – it would be easy to revile him for his brash self confidence and gift him with a privileged childhood and a spoiled young adulthood. But I had been there once – a young professional with a confident air and an arrogant face and yet behind the eyes, where my soul lived, the realities were vastly different. The struggle with self-esteem, the self-questioning, the critical flagellation of my talent were not apparent in my guise yet were real nonetheless.
And as I peruse the cyber world, the same dichotomy emerges, clothed about with words and pretence, painted liberally with fantasy and desire, the unfolding journeys range from the absurd to the sublime and yet others resonate with me, and carry with them the realities of time and demand, of mood and emotion and in their stories I find validation and understanding.
Words can betray us to those who peruse them; for even when we couch our stories in humour and insouciance, our realities can bleed through onto the virtual page and the pain leach into the hearts of our readers.
Time is the great leveller I believe.
For while I do not believe we can truly “know” another simply through what they choose to share, personalities and reactions do over time provide a framework in which to understand at least facets of the writer. The subject matter of our thoughts, the perspectives, the things that enflame, the quirks that attract – all combine to create a structure in which we gain some insight into the person behind the words.
I think this is why – like swan in her blog here and Morningstar in her blog here illustrate beautifully and from the perspective of REALITY, the impossibility of being experts when it is indeed fantasy and a rich imagination that fuels the tales. I find an absurdity coloured with anger for those who purport experience when all that fuels their passion is desire and fantasy.
People are credulous.
People want to believe.
Those entering any unknown realm are uncertain, nervous, eager to learn, passionate in their newfound arena of exploration. They are willing to suspend belief and in the way of people everywhere, quick to see in themselves, ignorance and a lack of knowledge as negatives and failures.
It is the nature of the human beast, I think, except for a very few, to harbour doubts about their abilities and inner convictions and it is immoral for the poseurs and the fakes to capitalize on their uncertainty.
Of course in the end, to my mind, it is all about practicalities. I know that fairly quickly, my credulousness disappeared as the pure impossibility of ANYONE having the kind of time, opportunity and desire that I saw in many of these stories simply defied logic. Short of fiction, the myriad realities of demands on ALL of us – from children to jobs to health issues to mood are inevitable and inescapable.
So tell your tales and like a donkey, bray your “experiences”, but one can only hope that readers can ingest the absurdities and impossibilities together with the fantasy.