Perception

Some human beings live to be 100 – and others survive mere hours after their emergence into the world. In either and any case, the people that love them the most will always say that they died young. Age has never been a factor accounted for in the cases of the old, and is the only thing considered in the cases of the young.

Pocket watch, savonette-type.

Image via Wikipedia

When I die young, I hope I’m remembered for what I did, not what I could have done. Suppose I die young at 20, or 50, or 80 – I hope time is not considered. Because while character is reflected in actions, it’s also reflected in presence. (I mean that one should be remembered by the impression they leave on others.) Perhaps I’m just an awfully overemotional person (who am I kidding? I am just an awfully overemotional person,) but a day doesn’t go by that I don’t wonder how I affect other people.

What on earth defines character? If reality is perception and perception varies with each and every individual (we don’t even have any reasonable way of knowing that we feel the same emotions in the same way as other people – we have only vague descriptions we give each other to describe the pain of losing someone or the joy of discovery,) then does not character vary – the essence of character, that is? Is it a tad useless to seek out traits of honorability when honorability cannot be universally defined? Yes, I see that the questions are absurd, and it takes only a few moments to answer them. But I still ask them anyway because they seem to me to be worth asking. It seems like people forget to ask – or otherwise never wanted to in the first place. I suppose then I should wonder what sort of person would ask absurd questions like that if I’m asking them. Questions that seem to have answers before I’ve finished writing the last word.

I know it’s absurd to sometimes feel an inherent need to teach people when I have little to teach, and to seek out something with no name, shape or purpose. Often I feel the same way as I did when I wrote a small while ago, “I suppose I’m looking for something that I will know when I see it.” A sense of belonging in a moment, of certainty that one isn’t aimlessly wandering throughout space.

And, that would be my ramble of the week.

__________________________________________________

Yesterday I had class at The Center. I was certain that Chase wasn’t going to show up, but several minutes after class started a door at the back of the classroom creaked open. He poked his head inside and a gust of cold air took advantage of the opening and swept through the room. I knew instantly it was him by the shade of his caramel hair in my peripheral, confirmed upon my glancing over.  His expression was one of a child whose hand was just caught in the cookie jar as he looked to Teacher Madame – he’s rarely that late to class. After he stepped inside he took a seat next to Marshall, who sat directly behind me to the left (I decided to take one of the seats in the front.) Class went by rather quickly, and Teacher Madame and I ended up talking after class for a few minutes, and directly after the mutual discovery that we’re more alike than previously believed, she lent me a couple of anatomy and physiology books she had purchased recently. I stepped outside of the building, and upon realizing on the walk to the center’s cafe how much time I had spent talking to Teacher Madame, I found myself thinking Well, you’ve wasted time you could have used elsewhere. But when I thought for a moment, I quickly snapped back, No, I didn’t. Just because I wasn’t talking to Chase doesn’t mean I’ve wasted time – how on earth was it wasted, anyway?

I stepped inside and glanced to my right to see Chase sitting at a table by the window, his laptop sat open, fingers poised at the keys. He looked at me for a moment before looking down at the screen. I walked into the restroom and checked my appearance. Tired, certainly. I had woken up early again to spend more time getting ready – three hours spent trying to look beautiful so any pretty I managed could be displayed for ten minutes before I had to leave for work and he for economics.

Thing to be happy about… I realized I couldn’t work up anything specific (it’s routine now that everyday I think of something to be happy about), so I thought simply, today will be a good day.

I ran my hands under hot water for a few moments, the temperature was colder than is comfortable inside the cafe and I was nearly shivering. Instead of wearing one of my usual trench coats or a thick blazer with my grey slacks I had on a forest-green Ralph-Lauren hoodie and (you might not believe me) jeans. I have not worn jeans in public for, bother, I can’t even recall the last time. But the hoodie and maroon-red blouse were much more flattering to my figure than a boxy blazer, same goes for the jeans. I haven’t tried to look pretty for anyone in a while, but the sudden change in appearance seemed natural. I even bought new make-up and whipped out my new Chi flat-iron (which is rather handy for styling natural-looking waves…ahem…) for no other reason than to look better on Wednesdays. I could almost laugh at the utter oddness of it, I wonder what he would think if he knew all of the trouble that goes into those ten minutes.

After I dried my hands and stepped out I saw Claire behind the counter in her usual barista attire.

“Claire!” I walked over to the counter and saw Chase suddenly look up, “How you be?”

She smiled broadly and nodded, “I be good, girl! How you be?”

“Great, thank you very much.”

I saw a friend of mine step outside of study hall and I started speaking with her, and then Claire again. I was aware of every move Chase made, when he shifted in his seat or turned a page in the book he had out and glanced up for a moment, but I didn’t want to stop talking to Claire or Marie (my friend from study hall.) When I would think back on it later, I would be equal parts happy and regretful.

While I was talking to Marie, I saw Chase start putting away his things, looking up once or twice and finally stepping outside and walking to his class. I was going to come up with something, and say that I was going to wait for my mom to pull up outside (so I could meet him at the door), but Marie was in the midst of a sentence and it would have been rude to suddenly leave. My time for the week was up.

When my mother pulled up I realized I hadn’t changed for work yet, so I ran inside the bathroom and changed into my grey slacks and a long-sleeved black shirt with one of my pocket watches around my neck.

“Claire!” I ran out of the bathroom and grabbed my scarf and grey knit cardigan. “I am in a dilemma!”

She ran over, completely baffled.

“Alight,” I said, putting on the cardigan, “I need help for what to wear to work. Should I wear this, or no cardigan and just a scarf?” She had me try a couple different looks before settling on the scarf.

“Thank you very much, Madame!” I said as I stuffed my items into my bookbag and headed out. I scanned the campus for any clues as to what building Chase’s class might be in.

For a moment I felt disappointed, the next ten minutes wouldn’t arrive for seven days.

“How was class?” Mom asked as I got into the Fit.

“It was alright.” I said, buckling in and looking over at her, “Nothing new.”

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

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9 thoughts on “Perception

  1. For what do you want to be remembered? If they remember this you have been worthy of remembering: She was never the source of anyone’s misfortune and never passed up an opportunity to perform a charitable act.

    • I suppose I don’t want to be remembered for any one specific thing – I want to be missed 🙂 that is, I suppose, I want to be the sort of person people would miss (will miss).

  2. I honestly don’t know what to say about the first part of this. That’s heavy stuff! For me at least! You should take a philosophy class. You will be remembered for who you were by your loved ones. They will remember what you meant to them. I liked Morgan’s comment above. It’s just one of those things you know it when you see it.

    Doesn’t it feel good to dress up sometimes, even if it is jeans? I really over do it when I go grocery shopping. I don’t care though. If it makes you feel good do it! Don’t worry what people think, they’re probably just jealous.

    • Indeed to your ‘like’ regarding Morgan’s comment – I, too agree with it 🙂

      I do love dressing up – which, oddly for me in this case, is dressing down. I typically wear business casual attire, but wearing jeans and a hoodie was oddly comfortable… 😀

  3. I think it’s only human nature to want to be remembered for something, I hope I am remembered for my Julian, as he is my one loved creation, but who knows…

    Liking the bit about Chase. I understand changing the way you dress, putting on more make up and all of that, and you know, the thing is, all that, always helps YOU feel better, and if there’s a cute boy in the picture, well, that is even better 🙂

    • Madame Alannah, your comments always make me smile 🙂
      I have no doubt your novel will be a masterpiece – I don’t think it’s possible for someone to put so much heart and longsuffering effort into something and have it not become something great.
      It did make me feel better! I’m an awfully vain human being, so knowing that I looked that good all day really made me more comfortable interacting with others 😀

  4. I think you touched on two fundamental characteristics of humanity in this piece.

    One is that we are always trying to define things that can’t be defined (which is ironic to say while I’m trying to define “fundamental characteristics of humanity”). In your example you use “character”, but you could just as well use “math” or “language” as there are many things in this universe that can be defined by neither.

    The second is the fear of death… which you seem to allude to when you speak about wanting to be remembered. I would say this is the greatest struggle we face as conscious beings and it’s one that has spawned countless religions and beliefs. I guess the story of Achilles is the ultimate example.

    I don’t really know what to say about these because there really is no right answer in my mind, which is rare because usually I love to pretend that I always know what I’m talking about. I will tell you however that you are not alone in your thoughts, and to question is to learn.

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