May 21, 2004

I read back over yesterday’s post. I still don't know the details of how those two topics happened to merge in my mind. Had I written about the sunset at the time of happening, the post would have been nothing but sunset. At that particular moment I stared at sunset, and sunset filled my mind, and nothing else was necessary.

But I did not write this down at that particular moment. Even among the romantic poets, their "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" took its origin "from emotion recollected in tranquility". Few things are ever written down at the moment of conception. As with most things Internet-written (and perhaps written at all), the image held in my mind until much later, when I jotted down a scrap of the visual imagery, and later still -- late the next day, in fact -- when I finally was able to access a computer: by which time there had been other stimuli in my life, evoking other directions for thought. Sometimes, writing after what has come later, I completely forget -- at that moment in time -- to mention what had just gone before. Sometimes a line of text, as if heard, echoes through my head without context. And sometimes the intervening night and day and days are such as to create new connections entirely, of which I might never have been aware at all, had I not taken the later moments to evoke them into pixellated text.

Writing creates ripples. Even if most quickly are stripped of individual identity and are lost, the reverberations remain. Writing is an action, and even the most innocuous actions have consequences.

I happen to be an inveterate jaywalker. (The term is much older than Jay Leno: look it up.) I won't dodge tightly or blindly in front of vehicles though: the loose rule of thumb is that if I cannot cross without breaking into a run, I wait until I can. That time, fairly wide street, I began crossing at an intersection against the traffic signal when the near lanes were completely clear of traffic, and the far ones would be by the time I reached them at a walking pace.

Suddenly a motorised wheelchair zipped past me, still against the traffic signal. I reached out and grabbed the handlebar and stopped it bare instants before it could reach the far lanes -- which very much did still have active traffic speeding through, then. (I had judged the clearing of traffic to my walking pace. The wheelchair was quite a bit faster.) The person in the wheelchair, realising then what had nearly happened, was very grateful to me. But I --

I had been watching the patterns of traffic. I had not actively seen the wheelchair at the curb except as part of environment. There was no way in which I could have realised beforehand that the person in the wheelchair relied visually on the movements of those around him in order to judge when it was safe to go.

Nevertheless, he had been guided by my movements -- and in that manner I had nearly gotten him killed.


Smile of the day:

Q: What kind of mushrooms can you eat?
A: All of them. However, some kinds, you can eat only once.

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