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11:02 a.m. - May 13, 2003
More from the secret mixed-up files of personality and individualism
People Ė my sister, Spec Ė would be puzzled when Iíd water the back yard with the hose and spray attachment instead of simply turning on the sprinklers. My sister would comment on the incongruity of having something to be used and choosing not to use it, while Spec would comment on me doing things my own way, chided me for taking too long. I could never capture the essence of doing something well, even something uncomplicated like watering shrubbery; itís not the act thatís important but the effort and meaning that goes into it, what some would call the transcendence of the moment. I dislike being watched as I do my own thing, feel somebodyís eyes following me, their thoughts bordering on the impatient and patronizing; I take off my shoes and socks so I can feel the grass and I always end up wet, crouch low to hear the air bubbles and the water fall; itís pleasurable for me, itís taking time to do something for myself. I wonder if people donít understand that need for solitude and reflection and what they do instead. Work out or go shopping? I donít know. I wonder about these things, wonder about the lives of other people.

One of my favorite sights / sites is the Bay Bridge toll plaza on the eastern rise where downtown San Francisco is immediately before you across the bay and the bridgeís struts and cables rise up up up. But itís not the view that I am in love with, it is the highways that approach the toll plaza, 80, 980, 24, all coming together into 20 lanes that lead to the bridge. Particularly, I am enamored with the 80 split coming down from Berkeley because of the flyover that gives me a view of all 20 lanes filled with people and autos and trucks and I always feel a thrill to see this congested mass. I have never minded sitting in traffic to cross the bridge. Once, I took Spec from Palo Alto (west) to Fremont (east) across the Dumbarton Bridge only to drive north to Oakland and cross the Bay Bridge (west) into the city, never mind that Palo Alto itself is half an hour south of San Francisco. I wanted to show him something I appreciated and it was timed well, just at dusk, and coming over the rise all one could see was a layer of red brakelights. When he said Only you could like this I took it as a compliment. What I love more is looking at people in their self-contained bubbles going to work, coming home from work, heading into/out for a night, an endless variety of people. I wonder what their lives are like, what theyíre thinking about at that moment when traffic isnít moving and theyíve already pulled out the two bucks for the toll. Itís different than being in or seeing a large crowd in a stadium because there, everybody is joined more or less into the same enterprise whereas on this bridge itís a mass of individuals being individual. And silly me, I wonder what thatís like. Perhaps were I to spend less time thinking about others and more on myself I wouldnít wonder as much.

I think people like me tend to die young because we never learn how to fit in and be like everybody else.


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