Surfaces come in a variety of flavors. Smooth, glossy, and slick. Some are rough and tear through skin upon contact. Others still are chameleon-like. Flicker and glimmer, they change with their surroundings. But what does a surface say about an interior? Furthermore, how does a surface change how we interact with the object (or person)?
I’m thinking of two specific experiences. One was just before Thanksgiving, at the San Diego Airport, and the other was this past weekend at Presidio Park.
The airport was crowded. Bodies filled chairs and sprawled on the floor, along the walls. The line for coffee was 30 people deep, and non-stop the PA system squawked. My mom and I settled in, waited for the flight. A woman, about my mom’s age sat next to me. Average clothes. Round face, blonde hair. We smiled at each other. I kept reading my book. After a while, we made eye contact again. This was when she leaned over, pressed a hand to her lower abdomen and asked, “Do either of you ever get a pain? Right here?” She demonstrated on herself.
I frowned. “Uh, sure. Sometimes.”
“Well, see, here’s why I ask.” She was a healer. “Going into hospitals is the worst. All those feelings, all that pain just floods right into me.”
My mom, the psyche nurse, promptly checked out of the conversation. I have to admit, I was a little intrigued. She went on about her healing work, asked where we were going. She nearly poured out of herself to learn our destination was Santa Fe. “That place has so much energy. Are you sure nothing’s wrong? You don’t have a pain right here.” She also read auras. “And honey, yours is so bright.” Sure. Appeal to my ego. “Oo! It just got brighter.” At this juncture, she blessed me, asked the Universe to fill me with light and love and creativity.
Fast forward a few weeks. My friends, Heather and Tracy, were setting up for their birthday party at Presidio Park. A few minutes after I got there, a man walks through. He was wearing a grey and black striped sweatshirt that kept riding up and exposing his belly as he waved his arms. Long black hair, threaded with grey, waved down to his shoulders. He had a beard, too. He talked endlessly without making a sound, and his arms. They moved constantly as if he was conducting an orchestra. He took a bow, peered into the trash can. Upon finding nothing satisfactory, he moved on to the next.
I composed stories about these strangers. Upon seeing them (surface), I crafted childhoods, heartaches, chemical imbalances, and maybe a little bit of brain damage. I relied on those stories to make judgments about both of them. Even though some observations could be considered empirical, the consequence of them is still conjecture. In other words, I made shit up. I might have been right. There is also the chance I might have been wrong.
It makes me think of the issue of appearances versus reality. Of how we present ourselves to others (and to ourselves, frankly). How can we tease back the veil and reveal something that is closer to true, closer to authentic? And will we recognize when we see it?
[ASIDE: Life is never quite what it appears. It is more.]
Photo note: This is the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, or at least part of it. Taken in November in DC.