Contemplating Contemplation

by Elana Roth Parker in ,


For better or worse, I spend a lot of time alone these days. Sometimes I need it. Sometimes I don't. But sometimes I can manage to do that outside the confines of my studio apartment and go see pretty things. Like yesterday, when I took myself to the Met and let myself wander, with no agenda other than to maybe find a room I've never seen before. I was successful.

But while lavishing your eyes with the beautiful scenery, you somehow also begin to really consider your place in the world. And the Met (though I haven't been in a few years) is one of those places I've been taking myself to think for the past 10 years. Which really just makes you remember back to all those other moments you sat there just to think...and what you thought about. In light of the crap that was 2009, and my half-assed determination to make 2010 better, I'm wondering how far I've actually come since then.

Something happened that really highlighted this for me yesterday. While wandering through the American Wing, I passed a guy and his girlfriend. I did a double-take and realized I knew him. It was someone I hadn't seen in 10 years. We were camp counselors together. And kind of friends. I remember he was a nice guy, and nice to me back then. But yesterday he didn't show any signs of mutual recognition so I just kept going. Either I looked very different, or I'm just too good at recognizing people. Or I didn't make enough of an impact back then, or if he just wasn't very good at remembering people. Or it'd just been that long a time after all.

I think the force of the past 10 years kind of hit me then, even just in innocently passing someone who you knew in a past life. The way paths randomly cross with no rhyme or reason, the soft memories that creep up and either make you smile or grimace, and the idea of who you were and who you might have been had you made different choices. And the idea that a lot of things can happen, but that doesn't mean things actually change all that much.

I'm wistful to say the least. And that's pretty much all I got.