I’ve always had a knack for standing still. With the likes of that skill, you might think I’ve already paved a very successful future for myself. A mime with a single pose, an FBI agent who excels at eavesdropping until the guy leaves the room, one of those silver-painted humans downtown who think they’re statues. My options were endless from the beginning… And even if that doesn’t become my life’s passion, standing still makes for some excellent entertainment. For example, sometimes I pretend to freeze on Skype. Throwing in a good ol’ mime act in the middle of a conversation (most likely a virtual conversation, but if you do so in real life then you are the most excellent human being I know) offers up some serious bonding with me, myself & I as we all wait and see if our mime act is so good that they hang up on us. Ah, the only time being hung up on is an unmistakable victory.
So that’s what I do for fun! What do you do?
I kid, I kid. But I do enjoy, in some weird way, seeing life as though I were frozen, while the rest of the world continues. It’s a bizarre version of the classic aspiration to put life on pause – where everyone else around you is a mime in a single, generally mundane pose – and you go on your merry way for an hour or two to travel the world, see the Eiffel Tower, shave Kim Jong-un’s hair off, and sift through your enemy’s garbage can. But this doesn’t interest me as much. Seeing the the world around me in a motionless, robotic state would be paralyzing as it is. If I were the one person on Earth who still had some remnant of life in me, well, the world’s outta luck because I’d join them in their paralysis.
There is, however, a subtle fascination with the world’s resistance to stopping when I do. Yes, I just realized this. I’m not the center of the universe, someone pinch me. Okay, thanks for the pinch – the hard truth has been swallowed.
What I mean is that we don’t often contemplate, or contemplate enough, the world’s ignorance to us – these tiny little human beings motoring around, laughing at bad jokes, gossiping, making love, picking their noses. Just as we don’t contemplate breathing or an occasion of rain as anything more than a fact of life. Recognizing this ignorance, as scary as it is, grants you the most genuine form of modesty and brings you back into reality, in that you are not the centre of the world and the world will most literally keep spinning without you. The clocks will continue ticking, rest assured.
Does that scare you? Perhaps. But should it scare you?
Let’s pause for a moment. Take a breath, and be completely still. Your eyes alone scan my words, your chest rising like the tide in tune to your breath. Register the fact that everyone else around you – every human, every bird, every slug – is continuing on, ignorant to your stillness. You are not the sun, you are not the moon. You very well may be to your loved ones, but to 99.99999% of the world, you’re as pivotal as the slug on your sidewalk. Your time spent on this Earth is for you. Your time is no one else’s.
For me, I use the power of time as motivation. Or at least that’s what I strive to do. Because time shouldn’t need to scare us. As a child, I remember my mum once told me I was given thirty seconds more to play on the playground and I distinctly remember thinking, oh my gosh, what is my mum thinking? That’s so much! What will I do with all this time? And I ran like a mad-woman in the body of a seven year old up and down a slide, through the monkey bars, and underneath the ladder until she said it was up. That time was glorious. Time empowered me then, and it can empower me now.
The perspectives we have as children are valuable. We may grow older, we may grow wiser, but if only we could harness some of that innate optimism we had as children. To marvel at the world around us and recognize joy in the little things is momentous; It’s those moments of marveling that slow down time and center us in the present, and allow us to recognize just how much power we do have over time. Because it’s you who chose to pause and it’s you who chose to marvel. No one else.
The following series of photographs evoke that sense of wonder in the little things. A brilliant collection by Christopher Boffoli entitled Big Appetites. Feed your eyes some serious whimsy with these shots, and please let me know your favourite!