So here’s a little look into my brain.
As I walk, my eyes get stuck on really interesting textures. Anything remotely texturally complex, anything with contrasts, anything with layers, I’m focused on.
Look at this lamp-post.
Look at it.
You’ve got the core of the lamp-post, which is fairly smooth, bright concrete. Porous, though. Pitted like honeycomb toffee. Then the casing, the bark of the thing, a sandy, pebbled surface, sandpaper begging to be touched.
But the outer layer is cracked and scratched, because at some point a car or a boot showed the metal access door who was boss. And the galvanized surface suffered some damage. A thin layer of finish or sealant, chipping away because of the subtle folds in the metal. Then the sticker is coming off in bits, pilled off like so much lint from an over-washed sweater.
Then my brain does this:
This kid was bored. He’s wearing steel-toed boots because he was cutting lawns all day with his buddy. It’s summer and it’s drizzling. His bus didn’t come, so he’s kicking at the cover. It bends inwards and a chip flakes off. As the next bus comes, rain starts seeping through the scraped surface.
It’s November. Freezing rain for days. The SUV pulling out from the stop sign picks up speed but doesn’t turn. The driver tried, but there was no purchase on the road. The crash isn’t bad. It’s not so much of a collision as the car pushes gently into the lamp-post. Nobody’s hurt, but the driver feels like an idiot. It was supposed to be a short grocery run, one his family urged him not to bother with.
This is what it’s like in my brain all the time. Everything is layers of story and possibility. That’s why textures catch my attention. That’s why I am incapable of walking past a weathered or broken surface and not pause to investigate. That’s why I gravitate towards post-apocalyptic or dystopic fiction and media.
There are stories in the broken and worn-down things around us. Give them your consideration, and they’ll tell you so many tales.
Look around you. And, as always, paddle your own canoe.