Well, I’m finally back on the Internet. Somewhat intermittently, but here. I’m still handicapped. My wonderful scanner broke en route. My poor packing techniques, no doubt. Anyway, that will cut down significantly on the pictures I can include in these posts.
The intermittent quality of my Internet experience probably has to do with Hughesnet’s poor saucer. The thing is lost in a fog today, as am I. A cold low-hanging mist veils the woods around the house. Where I lived in California, being shrouded in fog was not uncommon, but I was surrounded by other houses and other people who were similarly cut off from the world. Here, today, my chief company consists of red squirrels and chickadees.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s post. What shall we call the world around us when it’s unfamiliar? “Surreal”signifies a weirdness that’s made up of unlikely combinations of elements. Limp watches in a barren landscape. A red PT Cruiser in the snow (okay, not yet, but soon!). Not altogether unlike my present situation, but the weirdness lies more in my not being used to my surroundings. I’m the odd element instead of the limp watch or the dirty red Cruiser.
When we’re used to things, when they’re as familiar as old clothes, old wallpaper or mashed potatoes, when day after day they lie close to hand—we wear them, live in them, eat them—we almost don’t see them anymore they’re so much part of us. Travel brings us to another reality where the houses may seem as unlikely to us as Dali’s limp timepiece. Where, if we’re not careful we could, like Alice in Wonderland, begin to lose ourselves.
The same phenomenon occurs when we buy something new. For a few hours, or even a few days or weeks, it keeps its newness and everything around it shares in the wonderful shine that new things have. But all too soon, it’s worn and familiar.
But back to the more wrenching experience of a new environment, an experience that reveals how vulnerable we are. How much our identity is wrapped up in places and their trappings.
And, in the case of artists of every kind, if they’re involved in bringing together what has been disparate, if they’re creating new places and new worlds, how very, very vulnerable they are!