Little Glowing Bulbs
A Pedestrians Lust- Excerpt
Over the next few days I began to find I interacted with people in a very different way. I saw them differently when I encountered them. Before that time my interaction with the others was always predicated upon how I could use them. I had always seen the other through the lens of myself, that is to say, I had never known the individual at all. I did not know the individual as a person in themselves but only as a tool to be used accordingly. Now I began saw each individual in a new light.
It was as though two friends, after years of being apart, suddenly encounter each other along a busy highway and immediately throw down their bicycles and start to talk. In the intervening years they have barely existed to one another save for the odd recollection, and fleeting memory. Yet lying somewhere below in the fabric folds of the cerebrum lay dormant memories, meanings and mutual friends (in a way somewhat deeper than facebook). I would remember a childhood in Romania with a different language, different people and shoddy public services. I would fondly recollect on a childhood in Estonia where nationalism was something centred on a small language. I would be suddenly hit by thoughts of fetching water in the river in Benin. Yet none of these experiences were mine.
It was as though a woman was to meet meet two friends at the same time, both from different periods of her life. She, upon conducting this strange conversation, begins to realise that the woman that spoke to the other woman about politics and the girl that spoke to the other girl about boys, were by no means the same person.
It was as though a man met two friends from different periods of his life who were now each other's co-workers and, being unsettled by their shared new jokes and experiences, realised it was because they superseded his understanding of them both .
It was strange,
It was new,
It was liberating.
And so it began, I began to realise that the world extended beyond my own cranium. I had always known in the abstract, but had never really thought about it. Most people, or many, use conversation as a way to enter the mind of another and to open the door of their own. We humans are all mind readers, We read each other's lives and we read each other's faces. In the depth of the ocean, where life is strange and life is scarce, communication is often limited to bioluminescence. little glowing bulbs, extending from slender stalks dangle and throw off simple messages.
“ don't eat me I'm spiky”
“ lets mate”
“ don't eat me I'm poisonous”
“ lets mate”
“Don't eat me, I'm mimicking one of your predators… oops I wasn't supposed to say that. but it's fine, because I didn’t say it, because I’m a fish”
The conversations don't get much more complex than that, and yet we humans have developed the infrastructure to talk about philosophy and war and fish and psychology. If any of the beasts are mind readers, it is surely us. I had always considered myself a mind reader of sorts, one cannot rise in the political game without knowing the arts of manipulation, Reading your opponent and responding accordingly. Shuffling them and playing them like cards in a deck.
I had been wrong. I had not been a mind reader. I had simply been a prat.
The poker champion can only read the cards. He can see through his opponent's bluff and can guess when he is about to fold. He can bluff himself and carry through. At the end of the game he collect his chips, cashes them and runs off- elated by his victory. He often blows the money on champagne women and cars, and does not give it a second thought.
The mind reader feels the table, He broaches the tiredness of the dealer and brings her water. He sees the frenzied panic of the man in the red and convinces him to cut his losses rather than taking more from his from his sunken pockets. In the extreme, being privy to all the motivations, desires, fears and trepidations at the table, he is no more elated by his victory than that of the other participants. (or if he is it is only in the safe knowledge that in his hands the money would go to better use.) The mind reader is the conversationalist. I had skipped the stage of conversation all together and dived straight from the world of the poker champion to a world in which I began to feel and think through the eyes of those around me. I had gone from 0 to 100 in 10 seconds flat, and was still trying to realign the wheel. Take this from a man who, in his day, spent more time in a casino’s then a deep sea fish in water.
Many of you reading will think that I must have felt regrets about my past selfishness. I did to begin with, but in many of its in configurations regret is a selfish act in itself. The man of regret ponders on the past, wasting precious time grieving dead moments in the full knowledge they will remain buried. Like a religious woman convinced on the words of her pastor that her husband corpse would be resurrected, they ignore the world as it is to masturbate over the image of the world as it “should have been”. All this while the world continues, people are born, people die, opportunities are missed. In this melange of hope, fear, ecstasy and pain there is no room for regret, only learning. I remained a spectator to the regret of others yet I saw the anguish of the “what if” from a hundred eyes and through a hundred lenses and through a hundred eyes again. One does not have to be at a game of poker to be privy to gambler's regret.