13 October 2013

The Art of Observation: Denouement

Remember a short time ago when I was hanging out at the mall and observing people? (It was here.) Yes, strange habit. Most mall-goers ignored me and pretended I did not exist. That was fine, as I also did not engage them in any sort of meaningful activities. However, I dared return to that mall recently and--shades of "OMG"--there was that same couple I saw previously: the ones shopping for a ring at the jewelry store. What're the odds?

They appeared rather different now. Cordial; friendly enough though not exactly loving. No longer holding hands, no longer smiling, they seemed to be undertaking a task that was required of them yet neither wished to do. Returning a ring? Perhaps. Selecting something more modest? Good chance of that. Or simply indulging in the nostalgia of the moment--an awkward return to a moment already lived yet kept on the periphery of consciousness. Who can say for sure?

It's possible, I guessed, that they had had difficulties since my last observation, and I could imagine serious discussions about the nature of society and society's expectations of them, as a couple and as individuals--and reasons society should care which path they took.

But life is that way, sometimes: we do what we do, not knowing if it is the right thing or the best thing to do. Then, only after doing it, when we can turn and look back over our shoulder and measure the path we have strode upon as straight or ragged, curvaceous or zigzagging in such lovely, looping trajectories, or as unyielding as a ruler can we determine whether we have moved forward, forward in some moral sense. Or not.

So they stood against the counter once more, sales person smiling and bowing and waiting for his commission, while they were making up their minds. As though minds could ever be arranged or rearranged into something that made sense. People do what they do, naturally, and most acts are inexplicable, easily condemned to categories and classification or piles of judgment and social media's 'liking' quirks. Nothing real is but an illusion except to those who live it.

In the end they seemed pleased with the result. A balance had been achieved, it seemed. Each could take a fresh breath and go on without baggage or burden, stepping lively once more. Not, however, in lockstep. I could only wish them well and imagine in my ultra-romantic and idealistic way that they would remain friends. At least that. Because friendship in any hue is tough to find and even harder to make last.

(Not the couple I observed. These two seem happy.)

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

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