Thursday, May 16

thoughts occasioned by a carpark

the temporary nature of all the things in the world varies. this probably sounds bizarre and needs explaining. do I mean the quantity of temporariness? the degree of temporality? the rate of change? a measure of impermanence?  I'm not sure exactly what terminology to use. maybe this will make more sense if I use examples.

all the cars and trucks in that carpark between the library and the dorms don't stay there all the time. just school and workday hours, mostly. and then they drive away, to another temporary resting place in someone's garage or carport or driveway. the temporariness of those vehicles seems pretty high. they move a lot. that is what they are for.

for other things, it's different. the carpark itself? it doesn't move or change much... unless you're counting the shifting gravely dust and crawling bugs. I suppose a few cracks crop up, and weeds and dirt and dropped sodas and things like that happen, too. compared to the cars though, the carpark has a very low rate of temporariness.

would it be fun to map some kind of spectrum? develop a coding scheme and plot everything from the most temporary blips to the most seemingly stolid, immovable, foundational slabs? and which direction would such a map flow? temporary on the left stretching over to permanent on the right? or could we make it a counter-clockwise loop?

I suppose the leaves on the few scrubby trees on campus, since they usually stay a little longer than the cars, would be somewhere in the middle. all the buildings will probably be there for many decades, so they'd go further down the line; the books and furniture and people, circulating about at various speeds, might not even stay put on this map of ours. we might need another dimension, for temporality now versus temporality later.
I have definitely forgotten whatever calculus I once knew, so I sadly cannot talk about rates of change in any mathematically enlightened terms. don't ask me about physics or entropy either. all I have are thoughts and words--no steady, graspable numbers or equations.

some things seem pretty static. places themselves... they seem to always be there. to always have been there. but even here wasn't quite how it is now, once upon a time. this town and all the other collections of civilized life had to start somewhere. the static only seems static as a backdrop for all the movement and life and craziness. relatively. somewhere recently I read this quote from Stanley Eveling: "An object is a slow event." if any of my readers knows which of the fellow's writings that's from, I'd love to know.
so some events are slower than others, and some objects are slower than others, and the relationships between all these events and objects and their varying speeds seems so beautiful, complex, and consequential. I just keep wondering about it--the varying degrees of temporality of places, people, objects. no bird or squirrel can build a proper home in a parking lot, really. the elements of that space move around too much.

but a forest is not completely static either. do trees only make better homes for these animals because they don't have wheels? their temporality is low enough for more highly-temporal creatures to work with? live in? I guess there are other reasons trees make squirrels happier than automobiles do. but this temporariness (or apparent lack thereof) seems important too.

what about me? how to calculate my own rate of temporariness? I've been here, in this quiet West Texas town, for a few months shy of two long (and yet not very long at all) years. then again, this is the third Lubbock residence I've called home. neither that trio of man-made spaces nor my transitory self have proven very steady in terms of long-term commitments.

that word, home. it has such weight in it. to call a place home... that feels ├╝bermeaningful. you need to let this space be part of you. you need to be part of it. is that what home means? my very clever sister wrote some very nice words about this once upon a time. for squirrels or birds or humans, home usually needs to be more permanent than a parking space. or does it? I can't spend my life on a street corner or in this coffeeshop or even in the beautiful low-ceilinged stacks of that library. but must home have such a feeling of permanence? nothing is really permanent. nothing can be. new people will change the spaces they meet. foreign spaces will shape the people within them.
another post from the clever sister gets even more zen about change and all our funny human reactions to it. sometimes the change is curled up, so potent, right in our own hands, deceptively still, soft, and inexorable.

the summer ahead of me is promising all kinds of change. weather and scenery, latitude and purpose.

so I will change too.


N said...

Well I did enjoy reading this at 8am on a Friday morning :) Love how you got all this from pondering a carpark as well, I wish I had your brain sometimes (not in a zombie way).

Amelia Chesley said...

I guess I can share bits of my brain on this blog thing. you're awesome, Nic. thanks.