Sunday, January 22, 2006

Road games

I burn a lot of miles on highways, planes and trains these days. Most of the time I just give in to the zen of the situation and let the time pass entertaining myself with rolling idle thoughts. In the car I seek out right-wing or Christian radio stations so I can find out what the enemy's up to. On a plane or train I listen to my iPod and read the more obscure sections of the New York Times. But I'm getting bored with those pursuits and lately I've invented some road games. Here are a few you might like to try:

Notice the details
This one's easy and hard both. Driving down the highway, mind wandering, you focus on noticing as many details as you can: All the bridge overpasses are painted blue. There are five series of lines along the highway delineating the edges and lanes. The clouds are far-off and very high in the sky. The poles holding up the little reflectors alongside the road are all rusted except for an occasional new one which means it was replaced after somebody ran it over. Or if you're sitting in a restaurant: all the light fixtures are square and hang over the centers of each of the tables. The carpet has a diagonal pattern. The sound system is bad. There's a lot of unopened mail behind the cash register. Noticing the details can lead to a lot of associations and surprise insights. You suddenly begin to see things you otherwise wouldn't.

Find the light
This one I owe to my friend Keith, an enlightened being if there ever was one. He was telling me about the Cathars, the "pure ones" of southern France branded heretics by the Catholic church in the 10th century. Keith says they always looked for the light. So I've taken to scanning the sky for the brightest spot and peering deeply into it. Seeking more light is inspiring. (OK; maybe I'm nuts.)

Imagine their lives
As you pass by neighborhoods along the highway, or fly over a city's rooftops, choose a particular house and invent people that live in it. Decide if they're young or old, have kids or not, what their names are, and what they do for a living. What do they fight about? Are they happy?


At 10:39 AM, Blogger DetroitGirl said...

I sense a book coming on...Not only are you noticing details, but patterns. Yeah, you're crazy...


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