Being and Stupidity

Yoshitomo Nara 2014
Yoshitomo Nara 2014

Feeling stupid. Where was I? There’s a moment of stupidity that’s something like a gap in the order of things. A forgetting, except that I don’t care that I’ve forgotten. That sliver is a strange freedom, not unlike the feeling of staying out after dark and ignoring calls to come in. Some game is in play.

Where was I going? 2001. Boston’s Comm Ave, home to plenty of students, the spring sidewalk is covered with crushed apple blossoms, the contents of student apartments piled at the curb. I’ve never seen this kind of waste. Here in Boston, though, at the end of the school year college students move on to jobs or another school or drop out. And wherever they’re going, the furniture is too cheap or heavy to take. So it waits in the open for the garbage truck or scavengers.

I find myself staring at the couch I passed earlier. It’s half in the street, cushions now strewn half a block away. Too much to carry, and in the end, unnecessary for wherever its owner went. An apple tree overhangs the sidewalk. I can’t remember why I came this way, but I walk through it, trying not to slip on the wet mat of trampled blossoms.

Maybe these moments of stupidity, loss of direction, loss of thought, loss of sense are a way to lose what I never needed in the first place: a loss of sense without the sense of loss. The blossoms drop, from beauty to bruised. There’s the green, hard nub of a new apple.

This stupidity is a failure of mind and a subversive success of heart. The order I try to impose on my day is a tiny whip too small to turn some internal caravan from the place it needs to go. In forgetting where I was going, direction can be reinvented. Surrealists embraced this wandering as an exercise. I struggle not to see it as a failure of my Midwestern work ethic.

What am I doing here? I browse the paint chip display at the hardware store. A thousand colors and not one of them the reason I came to the store. Fanning the colors, I wasn’t thinking about repainting the kitchen or the reason green has so many shades and how many of them look beautiful in nature but sickly on a wall… I wasn’t thinking much at all. Busy eyes while I drifted with those things that got buried under paint chips and sink strainers and string—the kind you tie on your finger to remind you of something.

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