Friday, June 28, 2013

Absorbing the Atmosphere

Thursday is garbage collection day on my street, and, preoccupied with my thoughts about deeper matters, I forgot to haul my trash to the curb on Wednesday night. Before going to bed at around 3 a. m., I tied up the several plastic bags in which I’ve been throwing my refuse for the past week, slipped my battered sneakers on my feet, stuffed a pack of Camel Wides and my Zippo lighter in my pocket then walked downstairs through the outside door and inhaled the post-midnight air.

It rained rather heavily earlier, and it continued to rain, though the precipitation had now been reduced to a trickle. After setting those bags on the curb, I lit a cigarette then silently absorbed the atmosphere. A huge puddle near the curb spilled over to the sidewalk and the flashing traffic light was reflected in the water. I gazed at it for a little while then walked over to the main street, looking at that traffic light surrounded by a thin fog, and peered down the street to see more lights beaming against the night sky.

Other than the driver of a truck that pulled onto my street to fill a newspaper vending machine across the way, there was nobody in sight. Good for me. People would ruin the experience. Someone might approach me, notice my almost trance-like state, and ask, “What are you doing?”

The answer is simple: “I’m absorbing the atmosphere.”

The answer may be simple, but still too complex for the kind of person who would interrupt such a peaceful, solitary moment.

Exactly what could I mean by “atmosphere”?

And how does one absorb it?

The kind of person who would intrude on this experience wouldn't know. He understands chit-chat, but not silent contemplation. He reads a book only for the “story” and watches a movie for the same reason. I pity such a person. He can only respond to life's surface and never experiences its depths.

© 2013 Brian W. Fairbanks


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