Sport, work and religion: life’s great distractions. Perhaps I should add sex, gossip and TV; drink, knitting and war – maybe less so knitting these days. Everyone needs something to keep them busy; to keep them out of trouble; to keep their minds off why they are keeping busy. Even better if you can make some money out of your distraction and build in a little comfort while you wait.
I don’t know what happened with me. They spent eleven years trying to distract me in school, but they didn’t manage it in the end. Windows were always my escape. I still can’t help looking out of them. Watching life go by – literally.
And now I’ve been watching it go by for fifty years. Some might say that life has passed me by, but I wouldn’t. I’d say I’ve seen more life than many and sometimes I’ve jumped on and ridden it for a while, let it take me along and drop me down someplace new. I guess I always will when the time comes.
The biggest tragedy would be to get to the end of this without ever having given any thought to where I’ve been. Ending the journey never having looked out the window. I don’t actually know whether that ever happens, but I don’t want it to happen to me.
Sometimes I feel haunted. Not by people, you understand, but by an atmosphere. A place and time. It’s not the big things – the things that should haunt me. No, it’s the things a person might not even notice, unless they stopped to look.
Childhood is a frequent visitor. Nothing more than a feeling. For a second I sense the simplicity of my infancy. It’s like all the threads, all the fabric and overlay of adult life suddenly fray, then are just as quickly mended.
Sometimes it’s a moment walking down a street, far, far away from the familiar, the routine and the stifling. Far away from cares. A couple of wanderers strolling invisibly, hand-in-hand, along a busy thoroughfare in Mumbai, Moscow, Istanbul or Manhattan. It’s there and then it’s gone.
Moments. That’s all we have and we miss so many of them trying to keep ourselves busy. We are taught to disregard that which is most precious: the recognition of where we are. The Devil makes work for idle hands, my teachers used to tell me – well he gives the busy ones plenty to do, from what I’ve seen.
Life’s distractions limit our self-awareness. Looking out of the window provides a brief awakening and gives me something to remember. Shows me where I really am. Maybe I’ll see you there, too.
Copyright Kevin Buckle 2013