Déjà vu

Notice everything

As you move through time and space. Take note of as much as you can. Try not to make decisions about things you see. Simply try to absorb them into your memory. In other words, do not place prejudices upon the things you see. See them for what they are at the moment you observe them. If you see a crushed paper coffee cup in the street being blown by the wind, do not first see “trash” or “litter” that some “bad” person dropped from their car window. See the cup. Get as much detail from it as possible. See how it is lit. See where shadows fall and what color they are. See the texture if any can be seen from your distance to the object. Look for shapes that help identify the object. How many shapes and angles are represented in order to show such a seemingly simple object?

But that’s not nearly enough! It’s caught in the slipstream. A wind is playing with it. Moving it across the street. Which street? A car passes near it at a good clip thus forcing the cup back three feet from whence it came. But the wind is determined and the cup reverses direction again. It manages to reach the opposite curb and actually balances upright on a point for two, maybe three seconds. Then it is lifted gently in an invisible funnel. Spinning slowly as it is moved up and onto the sidewalk. A larger gust suddenly moves it with great speed and force between two women passing by, nearly striking one in the face as she battles with her upturned umbrella. Soon to be brought to a mushfaker, I suppose. The cup strikes the pane of a store window, hangs there a moment and slides down until it falls onto the many folds of a homeless man’s sleeping bag.


The sleeping bag used to be a brilliant green but that is hidden beneath layers of filth from the elements. The man, whose face is also hidden beneath years of grime and abuse, grabs the cup from the fabric. He holds it aloft and stares at it like a jeweler studying a stone in order to determine its first cut. Slowly, he places it in a bag at his side which is bulging with papers of all sorts and colors. An amalgamation of pulp refuse.

Did you catch all of the detail in this one quick moment of your life? The sky? Atmospherics? The texture and condition of the street? How many cuts in the man’s tired face? Where were they and how did they curve or angle? Did you look at his fingernails as he handled the cup? Mangled, hardened, and chipped beyond recognition. Was there still life in his eyes? Or had they begun their inward collapsing, slowly dulled by gray clouds? Did he have hair? On his face? His head? Were his ears and nostrils exploding with bushes of gnarled tree roots? Years of missed grooming.

You can’t see the cracked ribs where police nightsticks and military-grade boots fell upon him in his sleep so many times. You don’t see the mucus and spittle caked on the side of his face or the back of his hands held up to block the scorn of bankers walking by after work. You don’t see the images of children and grandchildren dancing around his head that he projects there as he reminds himself of everything he has ever had. Of everything most important that he has forever lost. But you can see it all in the details you may normally miss every single day of your life.

Whether you see it or not, it’s all still there.


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