Good Question

Years ago, I was told the reason looking out over a forested landscape was so resting was the variegation of greens. All the different shades mingled. To me, it seemed a sort of pattern of no pattern. I observed that if you add the slight air movement through the leaves, you get an even more complex view. This disturbed the person who’d informed me that the wide variety of greens was resting.
It seemed that he had a more paint-by-the-numbers view of things. Looking at the movement was vaguely disturbing, like a mass of caterpillars writhing on the mountainside below us.
Over the years, I’ve seen this as a sort of stasis versus change view of reality. It’s easy to view things as going merrily along in their established track until, well, until they don’t. Then all hell breaks loose because you never suspected that Jane would walk out on John, that the car would seize up, or that you look in the mirror one day and see a parent gazing at you.
I’m not moralizing now that I’m superior to others because I don’t do this; of course, I do. Generally, you have abundant information that at least some of these changes are in the works. For example, John’s frequent orations on domestic management, the missed oil changes, or the wrinkles slowly overtaking your smile. We just conveniently replace reason with complacency.

As a species, we seem wired to dream of stasis when change is always around us. The other day I was talking about replacing some windows with someone at work. The seal had broken, and several now had vapor between the twin pains of glass.
Somehow old fashioned storm windows came up. The huge heavy ones clipped over particular hinges at the top and sealed tightly with felt caulk, hook, and eye bolts. My coworker is much younger than I am, he looked oddly at me as I described how they all had to be marked carefully for the window they belonged to, or you’d get a hopeless mess of mismatched windows. Then, I remembered that in Maine, we used Roman numerals with letters indicating where storm windows went. On the old house, there had to be thirty windows, and putting up and taking down storm windows were sure reminders of the change of seasons.
He looked at me as though I had taken leave of my senses. “why weren’t windows designed like they are now?”
Rather than go into a long and pointless discussion of how a process of technological change resulted in the modern window, I surrendered to the ahistorical tendencies of a world in which history was what you saw on TV, unwrapped another Caramel from the candy dish, and replied, ” good question.”

2 Replies to “Good Question”

  1. Don’t you love it–watching the young ones eyes glaze over as you talk about something they cannot even try to comprehend? “Why, it was only 50-60 years ago…”


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