05 January 2009

Winter Days

It's interesting how mundane significant events are when you live them. It's almost like one's surprised that in this extraordinary circumstance, the laws of physics still exist and the world looks the same and no beacons of light or dramatic music begin to play. 

Like when I totalled both of my previous cars, there was no extraordinary feeling when the crash boomed and my head flailed forward, inches from steering wheel. The only feeling was maybe that of surprise, but honestly not even that of shock. And then when I got out of the car (both times) to survey the damage, the material effects of the crash bore no glowing spectacles and were not seen in an impressive film-like perspective. Not only was its appearance so typical and ordinary, but my resulting actions and emotions were as well. I had to do tedious work like ask for insurance information and blah blah blah, totally obnoxious things that are neither glamorous nor spectacular.

Additionally, when I got arrested, I didn't feel like I was part of Newport's Most Wanted--there wasn't even a siren or flashing lights. I had to walk down the sidewalk and into the police car like any other pedestrian, the only difference was I had metal around my wrists that was exceedingly uncomfortable. But my reaction again was neither one of trauma nor of despair. In fact, it only occurred to me the next day that I might have to tell my parents. Looking back, I'm surprised that I could be so thick as to think I'd go clean with a misdemeanor charge held against me, all without telling my parents or asking for their help. 

I was reminded of the ordinary appearance of unusual events just tonight, when I smelled something burning and realized I had left the empty oven on. I then imagined a fire coming from the oven and myself using some source of water to put it out. If it got larger, would I call the fire department? If it's not that big, what's the big deal? I can put it out myself. It's just a fire, it's not like it's a scene from Backdraft. These were literally the thoughts that came to my head, and I have to question myself: isn't that a little problematic?? Shouldn't the prospect of a blaze coming from my oven make me want to dial 911 immediately and then pull my hair out? Why do crucial events, when they actually play out in reality, seem so quotidian?

I feel the answer lies somewhere in media (this is where most of my answers lie). I probably would have reacted more strongly to the hypothetical fire if news headlines were spewing out of the oven too, or perhaps if I was playing some tragic music in the background that was loud enough to overcome the piercing emptiness constantly running in my mind. As for the car crashes, maybe if there was a huge TV monitor on the street corner playing hollywood-produced replays of my accident, I'd react stronger. For then, I'd be that victim on television, the star of the accident at PCH and Seal Beach Blvd. They'd scream my name, loving me and asking if I was okay. It would all be so tragic that my car was totalled, and the massive screen would serve as a spark plug for the outpouring of human sympathy and notoriety I would receive. When I was arrested, I might have felt like more of a bad-ass if there were hoards of people and paparazzi crowding my space, angling to film me at my life's lowest moment. Maybe later I could play back those video captures and see the glamourous, grisly wreck I had been, conveniently heightened in reality by the film crew and their reality-defying cameras.

But the whole thing that confounds me is the need for artificial images and excesses of stimuli in order to make something holy. These events may not be ordinary, but they happen on Earth everyday. There is nothing inherently fantastic about any of these occurrences, the only fantasies are those replayed nightly at the ten o'clock news hour.


-J. said...

Yup, for these exact reasons, I spend half my life in an imaginary world.

Even if you are the most accomplished of people, what do you get, a ceremony? I'd rather be granted a flying gryphon, or become supreme overlord to an entire species of ogres.

Real life is just okay.

Nicolas said...
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