Monday, May 06, 2013

“Serene Bewilderment”



Serene bewilderment is a good thing.

These days, you don’t get to feel it very often. Last week I did.

The phrase—as I’m using it today—comes from a Richard Brautigan story. And what happened to me was kind of similar because without consciously trying to emulate Brautigan I often find myself doing the same thing he writes about here:


I also told everybody that I had seen a moose in my back yard, right outside the kitchen window. Then I did not give any more details. I just stood there staring at them while they waited patiently for me to continue talking about the moose, but that was it.

A man I told my moose story to said, “Was that the same moose you told me about yesterday?” I looked a little shocked and then said, “Yes.” The shocked expression slowly changed into one of serene bewilderment.




I often find myself telling the same story, or making the same or similar comments, to different people and just randomly being aware of how different people react differently.

Last week my brother and I exchanged e-mails. My brother is much, much better than I am about being social and remembering people and keeping in touch. So every now and then he writes me and we bring each other up-to-date. For me that never takes very long because, well, I’m pretty darn close to fossilized. (Or, more exactly, I see myself like this.) Not a lot changes here and that’s the way I like it.

Anyway.

So my brother wrote that the weather up around Seattle where he lives was very nice, very spring-like.

I recounted some of the very bizarre weather we had last week—cold, hot, cold, threats of snow, etc.—and then to make the point about how strange the weather felt, I added that the weather here felt: “Very strange. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the world ended soon. Very strange.

My brother is a very down-to-earth and matter-of-fact kind of guy. He just took my bit of hyperbole in stride and let it pass.

Then, the next day—the very next day—at some point I was standing at a Redbox machine looking at movie titles and a couple of neighborhood people I knew walked by and stopped to talk. I continued to flip idly through the movie titles as we talked. At some point, one of the people brought up the weather and said something about how strange it had been. So, again, idly looking at Redbox movie titles as I talked, I repeated what I’d said to my brother, that the weather had been, “...very strange. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the world ended soon. Very strange.

And the guy—normally a relaxed middle aged guy—gasped. I mean, very audibly.

I turned to look at him. He said, “My brother’s a Marine. He said exactly the same thing to me yesterday.”

I just stared at him.

And I’m guessing if I tracked down some security camera footage of what my face looked like, the expression on my face as I stared at that guy would have been: Serene bewilderment.

I love moments like that.

You don’t get them that often.

And it makes for a good way to start this week: Telling a story about serene bewilderment.

Maybe this summer I’ll do some trout fishing.





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Leaving Mandy Moore

Kite Flying In America (With Trout)

Ghost Fishing In America Freddy
























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