People being people
My love for observation and curiosity towards our imprint
It is Sunday, the twentieth of November. The sun has been shining in a fairly cloudless sky and the wind has been wisping, there’s a subtle touch of that holiday feeling in the air—or maybe that’s just my psychological response to seeing twinkly lights, wreaths and earmuff wearing snowmen appear around town—I’ve been sitting in a local cafe for the last two hours.
When I arrived, I ordered my coffee and sat in a new spot, a long booth area against the wall, with one vacant chair across, giving me a nice overview of passersby and fellow dwellers. It always takes me a sec to warm up to the fact I’m sitting in public and am about to do things I deem as productive for the time being, amidst this warm up, I typically look around.
I sometimes feel weird photographing individuals doing their thing, but this was one of those moments I felt like I shouldn’t have been seeing, which further prompted me to want to see, and to want to know what I don’t know.
Do you ever look at a stranger and get a sense of what their demeanor is with nothing there to really support it? No factual context other than your subjective senses, and pre-disposed perspective projecting onto theirs? This way of thinking—of perceiving—may make me make more of a moment than it may be, but I think it’s a special thing to wonder what one is wondering, and to feel like you have a sense of what they’re sensing in that given moment.
As I observed this customer, I couldn't help but feel a strong sense of contentment in their pointed gaze, and comfort in the warmth the sun was probably baking onto their hands and forearms beneath their hi-vis sweatshirt. I noticed they had headphones in, tucked under their skull cap, and began wondering what they were listening to while staring off at the world on the other side of the window; an audiobook? A heavy metal album, or perhaps Ariana Grande? A self-help podcast? The news? A voicemail from a loved one? I don’t know, unless I were to ask, and that’s the beauty of it.
The customer continued to sit and stare, almost completely still when not slowly tapping the metal counter, or calmly sipping their likely lukewarm drink—I continued to wonder if I should write about them, and the act of people being people, doing that thing people do, which is being people. By the time I stopped looking down at my computer, wondering if I should, they were gone.
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that we’re all doing this life thing in our own way, everyday, and that we’re all connected in more ways than one. This fascination is something that’s kept me feeling whole in dark times, and curious in light ones. I don’t condone stalkers in any way, lol, but I sometimes wonder what it’d be like to be surveillanced, to be observed day in and day out while being unaware of this surveillance—what would one see? What would one feel? What would one perceive?
Isn’t it compelling to know the only moments in our lives that are free from misconception and perception are the ones we keep to ourselves? When we’re on our own? Or when we are completely unaware that anyone is watching? The act of being out in public, even when alone, opens one up to observation, making them aware that their actions may or may not be seen. I always wonder about moments I perceive as special when watching people be people, and if they somehow forget they’re up for observation too.
I’ve been wanting to document certain aspects of my life in different ways, but I don’t want to be aware of this documentation. Even when I think I’m at my most natural, my most comfortable state of being in anything I do, there’s always going to be a little voice in my head asking if my most natural state is still natural if I know I’m going to be sharing it in some way—either verbally, physically or digitally. It kinda irks me that no matter how honest I am in life, I’m always going to be aware of my imprint until I’m not aware—like being in the background of countless Times Square photos, or another voice singing along in someone’s concert video, or when I think I’m alone and unbeknownst to me, I am not.
Thank you for reading.
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