What if we were in a dark room? Mm, let’s call it a dark space – no definite walls or borders. Sightless, pitch, and silent beyond your own sounds.
When you think, what comes into being first? Does grass slowly sprout under your feet, does it tickle? Do you smell the grass before you even feel it, and is there light enough to see? I like to think the smell precedes it, that yes, it tickles, and there’s an ambient light we didn’t know was there that now shows the grass.
Now that there’s grass, what’s in it? Are there flowers, weeds, brambles, or small rocks? Or maybe something less nature-y. What if we saw a glass marble first? Then a scrap of cloth – and what kind of cloth is it? Burlap, cotton, wool, maybe velvet? Maybe it’s none of those things, and instead we see…a discarded street sign.
Nothing big like a stop sign or anything with a name or number. Maybe it’s just the “All Way” little rectangle that goes beneath a full stop sign, just sitting there in the moist grass.
As we walk forward, does the grass stay soft? Or does the spongey soil beneath it harden or get gravelly. And if so, what does it give way to? Cracked salt flats? Concrete? Glass?
We’ll say concrete.
Do we walk into a street intersection at, say, midnight? Nah, let’s not put a time on it, we’ll just say it’s still dark. A new moon, stars that are still invisible in a city’s light pollution. Or maybe there’s a single street light.
Alright, four street lights. One on each corner.
If we step into the center of the intersection, do we see anything down each of the roads? Are there apartments, houses, businesses? A park, anything at all? Are they all different, or are they all the same, like mirrors?
Maybe two ways have some of those – a couple parked cars in front of an apartment complex, with houses across the street, and the other has an empty lot and a business on the corner (a liquor store). We’ll say the other two are just dark, no street lights to tell.
But what happened to the grass? Is it still there? Maybe only when we think about it, or maybe it’s gone, with only a few sprigs here and there in the intersection.
Is there anything else in the square with us? A small bauble, like a gemstone or snow globe? Is there another street sign? Or maybe something bigger, like a body?
Hmmm, is the body a person, or an animal?
Animal sounds good.
Now, is it alive or dead? And if it’s dead, how long has it been? Forever and the carcass is just stone? Did it just breathe its last breath before we showed up? Or maybe it isn’t alive, but it’s warm anyway.
We’ll go with that, the gray middle ground. It isn’t dead, really; but to call it alive would be weird too.
Ah, we never said if it’s a person or not.
Why not…a caribou?
Cool, it’s a caribou.
So there we are, with a caribou that’s neither alive nor dead, in the middle of an intersection without a name or time.
What happens when we get close to the caribou?
It’s warm, but it’s not breathing, right? Do we feel anything when we touch it? Do we touch it?
Maybe we do, and feel it’s hide, its fur is surprisingly course. At least it’s more course than we would have expected, having never touched one before.
Let’s say its eyes are closed, and we pet our way from its still side up its neck to its head. What if, once we’re there, we see small somethings on its antlers? What would those be?
Not faces (creepy).
Not gems or sparkles (we tried that already).
Keeping with the color palette so far, how about small flower buds?
And speaking of color palette, what color do we see them as: pink, like cherry blossoms? Maybe their opal blue, with little flecks of pink in there to compromise? Can’t be red, like blood. Can’t be green, because we already have grass. We could make them iridescent, shimmering all manner of colors we can describe and cannot.
I’m leaning opal, kind of a personal bias.
When we examine them closely, are they just buds; do they stay that way? Or do they bloom?
It’s more fun if they bloom, so let’s have them bloom.
When we do, what’s inside? Is it like the skin of a bubble, do they shimmer like diamonds or beads, or does something sprout? And how big do they get? I’m seeing an opening at the center of the bud no larger than a pearl, but as something we can peer through; something that, despite the smallness of the window, we can see an impossibly large interior.
And what’s through that window?
First thought was mountains, like taking on the point of view of an eagle.
Second was the bottom of a waterfall, and a sudden wrestle with the water.
But what I like most is this: it’s dark, with a light somewhere far away. And as we get closer, we come to see they’re streetlights. They’re streetlights that corner an intersection at night. In the middle of that intersection is a caribou, neither alive nor dead, with someone kneeling beside it.
We go like this until we fall into another one of the buds upon its antlers and see another intersection with another caribou, only this time the caribou is alive.
Within these buds is another darkness, with another intersection, with another caribou, but only three lights are lit. Inside another, the two streets that were dark are now lit and the ones that were lit have gone dark. Inside another, the buds are purple and fully flowered. Inside another, we lie in the middle of the intersection, neither alive nor dead, and it’s the caribou that comes to us.
And the possibilities repeat, and spin, and zoom an infinite number of times in an infinite number of ways with changes that are either drastic or small and minute.
Now, do me a favor?
Picture making eye contact with your self in the bathroom mirror – alright, it doesn’t have to be a bathroom mirror, but a mirror nonetheless.
It’s kind of funny, right? That everything from the street sign and the grass, to the intersection and the caribou, and all of that never actually happened, but it sort of did.
Feel lucky to be alive, and thankful for everything that’s real, and isn’t.