There used to be a field in front of my house. It was full of tall grass and other vegetation that precluded me from playing there. Now that whole place consists of buildings, greeting me every time I get out of the house. There is probably more color now than there was before. There are colorful plants and flowers and red bricks and grey concrete roads and black signs and poles. There only used to be things in this spectrum from brown to green, the natural colors of growth and decay.
I never used that field, not even to play hide and seek. I think there were thorns in that field that kept us away. But I miss that place, that openness, the sense of freedom that it offered. Without doing anything, without interacting in any way, by just being present it helped. I never played there, I never used it in any way. It never got anything from me, I never asked for anything from it. But I miss it’s presence now. I never noticed it except maybe that one time when I mistook the shadow of a plant to be someone standing with a gun pointed at me.
I now see these tables, mostly empty. There used to be people there, mostly people I talk to. They used to sit and eat and so would I. Both lost in their own worlds, talking to friends, getting on with their day. Interactions were non-existent, the most that would happen was we would notice each other and then forget. Even nods were rare, greetings were just that. Nods. Verbal acknowledgement of the others’ existence didn’t happen. But they were there, eating, chatting, just passing time.
Now these tables are also emptying. Those faces are disappearing. No more nods. There is a silence that fills the void left by conversations that have walked away. A presence which was a comfort is no more. Something else will surely fill their places just like the buildings did. But it won’t be the same people, it won’t be the same nods and the same noise. Maybe the new set of people who fill up the place would be more colorful as in the case of the buildings. But they just won’t be the same.
I have always thought that everything is relative, everything can change and generally will. The field that disappeared and the tables that have emptied. They changed and with them I changed a little because even without any direct interaction, with just the knowledge of their existence I had learned something from them. Their existence influenced me, molded me in some ways. Not in the way your best friend would influence you or the way a teacher molds you. This is a much more subtler phenomenon, a phenomenon that will now cause me to change because of the changes in my surrounding.
One consoles oneself by saying that these things are bound to happen. But we know that inevitability doesn’t make things easier, not really. You can shield yourself from a lot of the effects but you have changed, you can’t undo that. Inevitability just makes you feel helpless. There is nothing you could have ever done that would’ve stopped the change that happened. But there is one thing that you could have modified.
You could have gone and played in that field, got a few thorns stuck in your soles, scratched and muddied yourself. You could have enjoyed, reveled in the green to brown spectrum of nature. You could have talked to those people on neighboring tables, at least went from those nods and smiles to a few hellos. Maybe learnt a few new names, spent a few more minutes. You may even have found a few friends there, who knows?
Things are going to change. Fields are going to be replaced and tables are going to empty, hopefully to be replenished. Those are inevitable facts but what happens while those fields are green and yellow is a different matter altogether. You can choose to talk to those people, move ahead from nods or you can always be afraid of the thorns in the field. But a few thorns never harmed anyone too much. Maybe we can learn a little more before the inescapable events unfold.