I was thinking the other day about how I used to see meaning and importance in everything.
No, like, everything.
I’d see a cat and then maybe an hour later I’d see a different cat and my brain would be like, whaaat, two cats? That’s important! That means something! And it would pull a thread from the first cat to the second and then from that to a distraught person I saw once in the grocery store crying into the pears and to a friend I’d had coffee with the day before and then inevitably there would be some kind of tiny, weird epiphany and I’d hurry home and write it down. Everything felt like it was related to everything else; it was like I was meant to observe it and find all the hidden meanings and Easter eggs.
Is this a young person thing that you gradually grow out of? Is it a stage of life thing? Have I gotten too busy to see the connection between cats and strangers’ tears and friendships? Are things simply less meaningful these days? Maybe there are actually fewer epiphanies hanging around in the ether, like the world is a fruit tree and epiphanies are apples and there are seasons where the branches are bare?
Anyway, I was thinking about it this morning and realized that I just kind of miss that version of my brain, always scurrying around trying to make things out of other things, not letting anything just be what it is. It sounds exhausting, maybe, but it’s fun and it makes life fun and I hate being bored. So I thought to myself, today I am going to go out there and over-philosophize everything. On purpose.
So I went out and did that and the first epiphany I had was that it has gotten way harder to do this, that maybe it’s less about the world being fruitless and more about your brain being well-practised. Like, there’s always fruit, it’s just that if you never raise your arm for three years, your muscles will atrophy and when you finally go to pick an apple, they’ll be like, what are you even doing? We don’t know how to do this.
But other than that little realization, I went a whole morning without finding anything meaningful or interesting. The people were just people and the cats were just cats and no one was crying into the pears at the grocery store.
On my way home I pulled up to a stop light beside the brightest, most electric, most lime green car I have ever seen. It hurt to look at. It looked like if you licked it, it would taste sour. It looked like a toy.
I thought to myself, that’s the greenest thing I’m going to see today. Not meaningful, per se, just noticeable—but noticeable is generally on the way to meaningful, so I felt hopeful.
There was a lady with short curly hair driving the car, and when she turned her head I saw that she was wearing a pair of the brightest, most electric, most lime green sunglasses I have ever seen. Just a shade brighter and more sour than the car.
Taken together, the two green things were practically glowing against the sad brown background that is Regina in early spring, and I appreciated them. Meaningful? Probably not. Just visually striking.
At that moment, from the left side of the street, out of the 7/11 parking lot, came a little crowd of pedestrians. At the back of the group was a large man, whose head stuck up above everyone else’s. As they passed in front of my car, the crowd parted perfectly down the middle and I was blinded by the hoodie the large man was wearing—the same green as the car and the glasses. The man raised his hand to drink from a neon green 7/11 cup, which looked like it was full of Flubber. It was incandescent, something humans probably shouldn’t ingest.
I looked at all of it, the woman in the green car with the green sunglasses and the green-shirted man with the green Slurpee and a familiar but long-dormant part of my brain started freaking out. So much of this very specific shade of green! This is so fun! What does it mean?
And then the traffic light turned green!
What are the chances?
No, I know. The chances of a red traffic light turning green are fairly good. You’ve probably had it happen to you once or twice.
But in that moment my brain took a snapshot and the green light felt lucky even though it was utterly expected. And maybe that’s my second little epiphany for the day: if you go out looking for things to be special and meaningful and important, they will be special and meaningful and important, even if they are as predictable and common and practical as a red light turning green.