On Perception, Or- There’s a shopping cart in that tree!
So at one point in my life, I was an RA for two years. (RA= resident advisor = very cheap labor for the residence halls/dorms of colleges.) The particular building I was in, that basically was the ugliest interpretative maze of a building ever to be made out of entirely concrete, had twelve floors and a basement. It was in Seattle, so we also had a lot of really tall trees. There were also a lot of balconies for each ‘cluster’ of rooms. As you can imagine this led to lots of fun times, including at one point, the riot police (with student’s pelting them with stuff.) There was also a tradition of tying a pair of shoes together and throwing them in the trees when… how shall I say, you ‘became an adult’. You know. In the bedroom sense.
One thing I remember in particular is that one day the other RAs and I noticed that, just chilling in the top of one of those very, very tall trees, was a shopping cart. In the tree. Like it had fallen from the great target in the sky.
Now obviously, there was only one logical reason for the shopping cart to be in the tree. A group of residents had stolen it from a nearby store, brought it all the way back to campus, smuggled it up the elevator, brought it out on their balcony, and (quite probably fueled by the excellent judgment that alcohol provides) decided that regardless of any possible accidents, it would be the best idea in the world to throw it off the balcony and see what happened.
It wasn’t that hard to figure that part out, but that didn’t stop me from being interested. In why they would do it, in what they were thinking. And also to imagine a thousand amusing scenarios (including some that weren’t even a little bit possible,) how that poor, mistreated shopping cart failed to learn to fly.
And that’s a little bit of what it’s like to be in my brain. I am perfectly capable of coming up with rational explanations for things. My computer isn’t working because the natural tendency of all machinery is to go towards chaos and decay. The loud weird noises that come from my toilet pipes are air getting trapped in it somehow. There is obviously enough business in vacuum repair that the weird store is making enough to stay open.
But that’s not where my brain stays. It just jumps to the story of things, the mystery, and in many cases the impossible of the extremely unlikely. Technology (and computers) hate me and like to make me cry. There’s a poltergeist in the toilet. (I named him Invisible Bob). That vacuum repair shop is obviously a front for nefarious business, probably spies of some sort.
Do I think my stories represent reality? No, not really. But I think they are more fun and more colorful than reality. Stories are important. Seeing things as stories means I’m very rarely bored. And I get to keep just a little bit of that magic and wonder of the world that we have as little kids and so often lose or have taken.
I love that magic and I think it’s good for people of all ages to have at least a little in their lives. And that’s why I’m a writer.