by tobias crabtree
I’ll admit, I’ve had a little trouble writing lately. I don’t mean that I don’t wanna write, I mean that it all just doesn’t seem that interesting. There seems to be a huge gap between me being amazed by what I see and then me transferring that amazement into words that can be read and enjoyed. There are so many quotes by folks smarter than me about how we each have our own distinct view of the world. I mean, I can’t even be sure that the red I see is the red you see. With that in mind, it makes me feel almost useless when trying to explain my love for something complex in a way that I feel you might also feel. Damn.
I have an example. I’m really into the elements and the periodic table. The other day I was riding with a good buddy, we were going for a beer, and I was talking about my newest discovery (and by my newest discovery, I mean my personal, simple, elementary understanding of Hydrogen and it’s role in the physical universe) from this book I’m pouring over about the periodic table and it’s order and stuff. My buddy, who I might add is a real smart dude, surprised me by asking why I am talking about that and what am I trying to prove. He wanted to know, genuinely, if I was trying to seem smart by talking about that kind of thing. Now I’m not above wanting to look good, in fact, I have a helluva ego that can really take over and ruin whatever I’ve done to make it seem like I’m a nice guy. But in this instance, I was talking about something that was humbling to me. And so, when asked why I was even talking about it, I didn’t have an answer. Honestly, I didn’t have an answer because of the oceans of thought I was swimming in. You could have just stood me in front of everything that ever was and asked me, “why?” I would have had the same stupid look on my face. I don’t know, but I love it and I’m amazed by it and so, sometimes when I think I might talk about it, I try to find words. Mostly, I can’t. It would be like me going for a ride in an F-16 and then, while my heart is still pounding from the ride, I tell you that I’m a-gonna build one of these suckers…from scratch. You know, like mine the ores and build the rockets and make the computery thingies and chop down some rubber trees and shape the wings and make the glass outa the crap that glass gets made out of and polish the windows and, while I’m at it, weave myself a flight suite out of space age materials that I harvest from a space age farm.
I reckon I was defensive under my buddy’s questioning because it was insinuated that I might actually understand it all. I don’t. I’m pretty sure you have to be at least a bit of a genius to begin to get a handle on most of that kind of stuff and, while I consider myself to have passingly good common sense, I can say that I’ve never been referred to as a genius (unless you count the times in the Marine Corps where someone screamed at me for doing something incorrectly and used the word, brainiac…and, although I do think that word is funny, I don’t believe it was intended as a compliment). And so, since I’m not a genius yet, I seriously doubt I’m gonna get any genius-er as I get older. Most likely, it’ll be oppositeville. Anyway, it sure did make me shut my mouth about my amazing little discoveries concerning the physical world. I know what my buddy was thinking, “shut up and go watch some star trek, you wannabe physicist.”
Trouble is, I still wonder. I stopped driving at about 3 a.m. this morning. I pulled over somewhere in the mountains and listened for the creek below me in the dark. My legs were aching and my heart was really, kinda heavy. Sometimes, for all the reasons there are and maybe some there aren’t, I just feel sad about things. Trucks were ripping by me on the highway beyond the trees. For a second, there was a break in the endless line of traffic between the Oregon highlands and LA, the sound died down to the wind and the trees and the creek. There were clouds moving, big ol’ dark cattle in the sky, and they were heavy heavy with rain. A few spatters began to snap off the black-berry leaves in the gully and I saw through a break in the clouds. A single, magnificent meteor streaked all green against a backdrop of forever. Out there, where the hydrogen shines purple and yellow and green, beyond my vision and my comprehension, is the stuff of wonder. Perhaps it’s better left unsaid, maybe even unwritten. Then again, fuck it, I’ll sing how I want.