I just had a three-day weekend. I didn’t exactly go anywhere or do anything amazing, but that one extra day of sleeping in and loafing about made a profound impact on my Monday morning outlook. I feel sanguine about the coming week. I will accomplish everything on my to-do list. I will remember to smile and laugh more often. I will be a better person.
Perhaps it’s ridiculous to attach so much importance to one extra day off. Even without the extra day, this past weekend would have been great. On Saturday and Sunday, I painted my nails, bought new bras (that alone is enough to impact my outlook on life), spent time with family, enjoyed all the pomp and circumstance of a full processional on Palm Sunday (it was glorious…), took deep breaths of after-rain air, and had chocolate pie! That’s a great list of weekend accomplishments, but the day before the weekend officially started, I got to sleep in and then I went to my favorite burger joint (although I had the grown-up grilled cheese–with bacon!–rather than a burger) and, after that deliciousness, went to see a movie with my honey. I know I’m belaboring a stupid point, but my weekend was simply 33% more awesome than it would have been otherwise.
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Monrovia. I always get excited whenever the clouds cast shadows on the foothills. I call it El Greco weather, because it reminds me of one of my favorite paintings, View of Toledo by El Greco. It’s a bit silly that I have this mental connection, because Monrovia doesn’t look a damn thing like El Greco’s Toledo, but the dappled effect of light and shadow in the one view always reminds me of the other.
Where we are (and where we were) informs who we are. I simply can’t look at Monrovia’s foothills with objective eyes, because when I see them, I see not only what they look like now but what they looked like every time I looked north in the twenty years I lived there. All those pictures overlap in my mind, creating a sort of mental collage overlay through which I see their current incarnation. And, strange as it may seem, El Greco’s View of Toledo is one of the layers of that odd overlay. In my interactions with the world, I wonder how much of my perception of the here and now is influenced by my recollections of the past. When I look at a friend, am I ever able to see who he really is today, or am I blinded by that overlay of everything I thought he was before? Of course, that’s assuming that the overlay is a negative thing, an obscuring thing. I’d prefer to think that it enables me to see the world (or portions of it) in greater detail than would otherwise be available. Instead of blinding me to the present, perhaps all those accumulated perceptions help direct my attention to nuances that may help me to understand both the current picture and all the images that came before.
For example, in the case of the Monrovia foothills, my overlay of recollections enables me to recognize changes wrought on the foothills by time, weather, land development, etc. Those foothills are not exactly as they were twenty years ago, and I would not be able to appreciate that fact in a personal way if I did not have my recollections to serve as a comparison. There are, of course, historical photographs of these foothills, documenting the changes in an impersonal way, but when I stand on the sidewalk outside my parents’ house and look north, I am able to perceive not only the changes wrought by time in the foothills but also in myself.
I suppose it is the same in the example of the hypothetical friend. If we take a moment to be still and look at one another and see the image proffered by the present day as well as all of the images that came before, we have the opportunity to struggle to differentiate between all of those different images of the object of our attention (the hypothetical friend) and to determine what those images might tell us about our own selves. It means something that when I return to my parents’ house, I take a moment to stand out on the sidewalk and look north at the foothills. It means something that when I look at a friend, I notice certain details rather than others.
My husband would say that I’m thinking too much (he’d be right).