Oh, gentlemen, perhaps I really regard myself as an intelligent man only because throughout my entire life I’ve never been able to start or finish anything... Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself...
Saturday, June 07, 2008
On a Treadmill
Being alone on business is not so bad, it has its perks. I won’t consider travelling itself a perk in my situation because it really does depend on where you’re travelling to, and in my case there’s certainly no joy in where I’m at. You’d really have to see the silver lining and examine it with detail if you want some sort of benefit from my sort of travel. Perhaps this detailed examination or quest itself is what I gained out of this trip.
I’m no stranger to living all alone, and I’ve always found it enjoyable. There’s more clarity in things I see and I always have more time to observe and contemplate. On this trip I’ve been trying not to waste my time too much and I decided to do something I’ve never done before in my life, which is run on a treadmill. Oh how I hate running, it’s one of the most mundane things anyone has to endure. Ironically running for a long time is about endurance as well. So being a novice at running for a boring span of time just under an hour, I had to figure out ways to fight this boredom.
I decided that an MP3 player would help so I stuffed it with some of my favorite songs that I haven’t heard in a while and got started. The amazing thing is that when I tried to focus on the songs to get away from the utter boredom of just running, I actually noticed some lyrics with more clarity. One of the songs is called Keep Talking by Pink Floyd and it starts with a mechanical voice saying,
For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals
Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination
We learned to talk.
Irrespective of how long mankind lived just like the animals, I suddenly recognized the importance of words. Words express things that were never meant to be expressed in such a manner, they express feelings and emotions that go on inside us internally and really have no way of being communicated to someone else. It’s just that we can never tell what exactly is going on through an animal’s mind, and to be so isolated from feelings we can express today is a little scary. It’s such a great gift to be able to express that which exists in a non audible realm, that’s why it’s important to keep talking, to communicate, to understand that we can understand what goes on inside us and that we share a lot of it.
I'll sit in the corner
No one can bother me
I think I should speak now
I can't seem to speak now
My words won't come out right
I feel like I'm drowning
I'm feeling weak now
But I can't show my weakness
I sometimes wonder
Where do we go from here
How many of us sit in the corner, feel like they’re drowning and just can’t seem to speak now? I’m not saying anything new, but I was visited by a moment that showed me how to appreciate words.
After my successful attempts at distracting myself from the boredom of running using old songs, I began to tire. I looked for new music, but couldn’t accumulate enough music of great quality to last me the sessions, so I turned to television as a catalyst while listening to the same old songs. The interesting thing is that I started to notice the picture and the scenes; devoid of sound, the camera says a few things of its own and even in a lousy action film, there’s a lot of work done by the camera that’s just aesthetically appealing and greatly overlooked. It seems that sometimes art slips us by distorted by things around it.
On a related note I’ve realized for the first time how brilliant the shots are in the movie The Aviator when watching it in a loud noisy café with a big screen unable to hear clearly the music or words. The scenes with the planes were so well done and particularly that of the crash was so well constructed.
I know it’s crazy taking note of these details just because I’m on my own, but they’ve become clearer for some reason. The interesting development though was when I decided to watch television and listen to what they were saying. In the hotel gym the television is placed behind the tread mills and you can view it by looking in a mirror. As I struggled to watch the shows I realized I wasn’t able to read the translation or listen to the sound as my legs pounded heavily on the noisy treadmill. I realized everything was inverted; the American movies looked like the English movies and the English ones looked like they were American. Everything was off, everything was distorted audibly and visually.
I couldn’t help but wonder if this is how we let life pass us by in a similar manner to how I observed the television; running constantly on a mindless treadmill, observing our lives in an inverted manner, the sound of our lives clamped and distorted by the pounding of our feet in a mindless chase. I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s the reason we can’t read any of the signs we’re presented with, like the translation on the television they’re inverted in our eyes and we’re constantly running in the other direction looking at things that matter in the rear view mirror of our gym.
Our lives are in the background and we’re content to look at our lives through a mirror rather than confront and give the things that matter our full attention. In the back of our minds we’re satisfied to look at a reflection of our lives, but we don’t really realize that while we can see things clearly in a mirror they will always be inverted. We spend half our lives trying to re-invert things in our heads to make sense of them, all the while running on the treadmill. You see, when you’ve seen things clearly once, it may be easy to spot the distortion, but if you’re on a treadmill all your life, how can you be sure that what you’re seeing is true.
We look at ourselves through mirrors and I can no longer be sure how well we can see ourselves. I don’t think I can trust mirrors that much because while it’s true that I can see myself with clarity looking at a mirror, I have to stop and wonder how much of that is inverted.