Everything night before I go to sleep, in the spare moments before I drift away, I try to picture a field in my mind. It’s never clear- more of an idea than a place- but it’s there. It’s my idealistic image of nature, I suppose- a field of uncut grass rippling in the wind. There’s a tree, standing alone, with woods one can’t see but that are surely there surrounding it on all sides. That’s as close as I can get. I hope, every night, that I’ll dream of this field and be able to roam through it- I never do.
I don’t think words can capture that- but I think everyone has their own field, their own vision before they fall asleep at night. I often forget how little I’m capable of seeing what other people see- in my Copernican universe, it’s easy to forget that every single other person has another life- another set of problems- another goal, another wish.
I’m most often reminded of this when I’m stuck in traffic on Interstate 20. I look to my left and see a person, just like me, waiting in the other lane. What’s their story? Where are they going? I’ll never meet them, and yet here we are, sitting less than ten feet apart, headed the same direction. It certainly gives a sense of perspective. It makes one realize that there are six billion plus other stories out there- that mine is not the only one. They say fish don’t realize that they’re wet, because they always are. I suppose it’s like that. But for brief moments, when we’re the greatest us we can hope to be, we burst forth from the water and feel the sun hit our faces, if only for a moment.
I’m bone tired. The bed calls. I’ll try to picture the field again. I can only hope that one day the picture will be clear. And I’ll wonder what other picture others are trying to picture. Perhaps there’s a common thread- perhaps not. Are we more different than alike, or do our similarities bind us together? I can never know what it’s like to be someone else. That is a fact. Because who we are is the culmination of everything we’ve experienced. We like to say that we know someone, but we never really do. At best, we know the person they want us to know.
I think, if forced, the one word I would want people to say about me is that I was genuine. But in the same breath, I realize that I, too, set up facades to hid who I truly am. I distance myself, even as I realize that I want to be closer to other people. And perhaps that’s why I picture the field in the moments before I drift off to sleep- the field doesn’t judge. It doesn’t question, doesn’t wonder- it just reflects the passing of the wind. And in the end, can we do better? We can shout, yell, worry, plan, cry, curse, or regret the wind, but does it stop blowing? If it does, did we do it?
I used to think that life was a person standing in the river, and trying to charge forward against the current. I viewed life as a struggle- something to overcome. Now I think that life is a river, but that we’re forever stuck in the current- that life washes over us. We can twist, and choose how to deal with the rising waters or rapids that may come- but we can’t stop them, or ignore their existence. And we can’t march past them. Rapids always come. The river always shifts. But we are stuck until the riverbed dries out- on that day, we’ll wish the rapids would return.