1.16.2012

Living now, later

Perhaps it's a function of almost dying, perhaps it's young wisdom, perhaps it's completely normal, but there are times when I know I'm going to want to remember exactly how this feels.  There have been a few times in my life, routines that I've been in, that I've saved, on purpose, in a vault in my mind.  And I can get them out whenever I want and really feel them again.

I learned about classical conditioning for the first time in high school, but I didn't trust a single thing the teacher said, nor did any of us, when we found out his credentials included one college class in Psychology.  I spent the whole semester devising a pulley system which would dump glue water and then a bucket of feathers on his head.

The next chance I got to learn about classical conditioning, I was paying attention.  I remember all about the dogs and the bells and how it works.  Basically, the guy who devised this had a bunch of hungry dogs.  Before he fed the dogs, he would ring a bell.  The dogs associated the bell with the food, so eventually when the guy rang the bell and then didn't give the dogs food, they drooled anyway.  We're all like the dogs -- hearing a popular song from the eighth grade dance era should send us all reeling back to that time fraught with humiliation and cluelessness.  We're also not like the dogs, because we can decide to do an experiment on ourselves.  Which I do.

Indulging in my reverie, I never photographed the rain drops, but this person did.

When I was interning at a graphic design firm in Z├╝rich in my early twenties, I had premonition that I would want to remember the twenty minute train rides that book-ended my days stuffed with design, tango dancing, strong coffee-drinking, and coming of age.  Frequently it rains in Switzerland because the clouds get stuck between the mountains, so most of the time the windows of the trains were streaked with water droplets scooting down the glass with the rhythm of the rails.  Every time the conditions were like that, I would listen to Peter Gabriel's "I Grieve" through my headphones.  The song was fittingly melancholy, terribly romantic, and beautiful like the gray landscape blurred out of the window.  And lo, whenever I miss having that gift of time in my life, time to chase thoughts, or not think at all, I play the song and am there again.

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