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elephant thoughts

May 24, 2011

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”

-Charles Dickens {A Tale of Two Cities}

i remember visiting calgary, alberta as a kid; arriving at night when the stars were out and the sky was dark, and as we got closer i could see the orange glow of it before the city itself. then our minivan would peek over the hill and there was this massive tangle of lights that reminded me of sticking my face right up to the Christmas tree in December.

and i remember thinking about how my aunt and uncle were in one of those lights down there. then, a thought: about how each light belonged to a house or a building, and inside each of those was maybe a family, maybe a widow, maybe some little girls having a sleepover, maybe someone else’s aunt or uncle or niece or nephew or grandma or friend–and how each of those people had their very own history, and their very own present, and their very own personality, and thoughts, and relationships, and feelings.

the thought sat on me like an elephant and i think maybe that was the first time that i ever felt completely suffocated by the enormity of a fact i’d always known but never quite understood: the world does not revolve around me.

i feel increasingly like people today {including me} keep forgetting that enormous little truth.

maybe we should all take a drive over that hill by calgary, or fly into miami together at night, or even sit in a mall and people-watch for an afternoon.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2011 1:26 am

    I’m not sure I’ve accepted that the world doesn’t revolve around me yet, but I do love looking at lit windows and wondering who lives there. Also, spotting people letting themselves in through their front doors and wondering what it was which made them choose that as their home.

    • May 25, 2011 7:57 am

      it’s all so nuts hey? not to mention, imagining the original home owners/builders and THEIR stories.

  2. May 24, 2011 6:48 pm

    I agree. A bit of people watching is a healthy exercise that should be done at least every once in a while… helps keep us grounded :).

    • May 25, 2011 7:58 am

      agreed! i’ve always felt it was creepy, but recently really don’t care.

  3. May 24, 2011 6:03 pm

    Since I was little, sometimes I look out over the city at night and think about how maybe for someone out there tonight is one of the worst nights of their lives. And how it’s probably a really great night for someone else, but maybe someone out there just watched a loved one be driven away in an ambulance or something. It just gets me to thinkin. (I dunno why I gots to be so morbid.)

    • May 25, 2011 7:59 am

      i TOTALLY think that way too. mostly while laying in bed. i think, “someone had a baby tonight. someone lost a baby tonight. someone got engaged tonight. someone broke up tonight.”
      i feel a bit morbid, but i don’t know if morbid is a bad thing. it’s realistic, right?

  4. May 24, 2011 6:02 pm

    I never thought there was ever another person who could possibly see that, or even describe it. You did so, perfectly. Not only do I applaud you for your story-telling abilities, but for the fact you can see so much more than what is at hand. That is nearly impossible for everyone.

    • May 25, 2011 8:00 am

      aw, thanks danielle. 😀 now if i could only take physical photographs of it like you can…

  5. May 24, 2011 2:29 pm

    i remember thinking that for the first time too, and just feeling really, really small, but not in a bad way. I agree.. our generation seems to get so caught up in ourselves, if only we could realize how refreshing it is to just be a tiny part of the big picture.

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