Friday, August 04, 2006

My day or a lesson in the proper use of mental shielding

I should be in bed already....

I mean it is way too late to be up and writing a blog entry that I could have wrote hours ago. Unfortunately someimtes I can't fall asleep until what I need to do is done. This time I think it is a quick or semi quick entry and then maybe then I can fall into sleep. It's a big day tomorrow and I am nervous....

Today was a good day. Ice Cube wrote about a 'good day' in a rap song but this was a good day completely different from that one. I don't live in the 'hood and I don't get harassed by the police. I don't even get to duck during drive bys.... So not having those things happen is not a new experience or a good experience it is just a normal experience. Today was a good day because I went out and explored a little and it didn't even cost me gas. My mom hooked up the bus pass for the month of August. So all I had to do was get to a bus stop. On the bus I studied collegiate promotional materials and tried to decide what programs made sense. I was at a stopping point and still on the bus. So I took a few minutes to look around. I noticed other people buried in books, plugged into iPods, and otherwise staring out the window. No one spoke to each other. No one made eye contact everyone created a mental barrier and hid behind it. I returned to my perusing of the course catalog for Marylhurst University and retreated back to my secret wall. In reality I was staring at the book and periodically flipping the pages while I thought about the reality of today's world. We are so scared of bad people and awkward situations that most of us do our living in specific places. With a core group of friends and family, people from work and hundreds of people on the internet. We actively guard against unwanted contact so much that the person right next to us might have been the friend or special someone we always look for. I started thinking about my barriers and I started to slowly take them down. I put the book away. I sat up straighter and I let my mouth position itself into a smile. Unfortunately the bus and the tram that followed are not the places to make direct eye contact. The more you look around and watch the more people develop a hole in their vision for where you are. I was determined to not let that affect me. I stepped off the tram and, still wearing that smile, I went into the library to return the books I had had for a month and a half that I probably spent 10 minutes looking at. Then I headed into the fiction section and selected a few books to peruse. It happened to be busy and every table had a person (not people just a person) sitting there. One table was particularly long so I headed over there and I asked to share the table and was met with a mumbled ascent and the person reengaged themselves to reading their book. The smile had not worked so far. I read for a while and after getting a wee bit antsy I decided to look for a few other books. I headed up the stairs to the third floor where the art books were. I was looking for a book on bookbinding and figured it would be a good place to start. I was wrong and I had to descend a level. I was wandering around looking for my section when a librarian asked if she could help me. My instincts and reflexes produced "No, I'm ok." Then I remembered my promise. I turned back to her and I said: "Actually I am looking for this series of numbers but I must have missed them." She took me over to the section and I thanked her and she went back to collating or whatever it is that librarians do... I had made contact... not significant contact but it was a step in the right direction. I selected a book and headed own to the checkout area. I was heading towards the machines that let you do it yourself but I realized what I was doing and changed course. The lady checked the book to me and asked about whether I had done any bookbinding and next thing you know we had a conversation. Success! Unfortunately another person was waiting to check out and we said our good-byes. I headed from there to the art supply shop to look at expensive paper and try to price the book binding equipment suggested in my book. I had a few dollars in my pocket so I bought a paper awl and as I was checking out the art school kids running the counter were discussing the merits of Gone With The Wind. One girl behind the counter had only made it to the horse death scene where Scarlet rides and whips the poor thing to an early grave. She had quit there and had never looked back. Two others including the girl that was helping me were extolling the virtues of the movie. Calling it the greatest movie ever. I had been debating whether to get into this ruckus and this was my chance. I have never been a huge fan of the movie so I said "You have to see it. You have to watch it all the way through. You don't have to like it but it is a part of American cinematic history. It is referenced in pop culture still. You have to see it for the referencing alone. Then once you have seen it you never have to watch it again. I haven't." This got a laugh from the girl who had abandoned the movie and a newcomer who added his two cents "Worst movie ever made". The two lovers of the movie were shocked and with a giggle I left with my paper awl. I continued wandering around with my smile and my urge to socialize. I wandered a mall called Pioneer Place which is a 4 story indoor mall. It has two sections which means if you walk in on one street you come out 2 streets down at the other side. I rode the escalators up and down every level and then headed out and caught the tram back to the bus stop. Along the way the tram was crowded it was rush hour and I remembered why people put up a mental wall on the bus. This guy got on and he looked older then dirt. A lady kindly offered his seat which he exclaimed "I am only 39!" Then proceeded to ramble in his slurry speech about this horrible story and that horrible story. He survived cancer but his wife left him, his neighbor skipped town and left an annoying cat whining in his house that he was taking to the pound, every young person thought he was old even genuinely old people offered their seat to him, did I mention he was slurring his words and looked like he was older then dirt? So I put my smile back in my pocket and I brought the newly borrowed library book out and I checked back in to my mental barriers. I realized the likelihood of sitting and trying to fake my interest for a 40 minute bus ride would be to much and I decided to avoid that. SO smile when you can escape but be protective when there is no escape.

Good Night (or good morning depending on where you read this),
Reverand Michael James Williams

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