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Her unnatural red hair.
The limp in his walk.
The crease in his dark, velvet forehead.
The sorrow-filled eyes of the woman in the back.
His mother abandoned him when he was only two years old. She was valedictorian of her high school class and got her masters in psychology.
They moved to a shelter home after the father had gotten into a terrible accident and couldn’t work. The landlord was not sympathetic.
The stories and scenarios I make in my head are so far from the truth, but the observer in me can’t help but to connect the things I see to the unknown. As I walk down the street or sit on the train I take everyone in. The complexity in the simplicity is perplexing. The somber expressions of the ordinary passersby often mask vividness.
As I observe what most people find useless and small, I try to enter into their minds and in an instant I create an entire life’s story. I am transported back to his childhood, playing with the little stuffed bunny his grandmother gave him when he was in the hospital. The same stuffed bunny sits on my lap 20 years later as I watch him kiss his wife goodbye before heading out the door with a limp in his walk. I stand in the corner as I watch her unnatural red hair sway back and forth as she rocks nervously. Her husband’s face turns red with anger and he grabs a fistful of hair. But on that train, I am simply a young writer observing the outside world.
Often times I tend to stay in the shadows when I am in a large group of people. Although I do not physically interact with these strangers, I am able to take in small details and supplement them with what I have observed in my own poetry and stories. In fact, I am able to articulate my thoughts more clearly on paper than through speaking.
Susan Sontag once said, “A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world.” By simply observing everyone and everything around me, I am able to somehow understand. I seem to understand, without a word, without any interaction. I understand that their lives have more than what I can see. As a writer, I have cultivated a mind that is able to connect what I see to the unknown. An observer may focus on the details of a person, a thing, a place; however, the writer is the one who makes it truly come to life. The writer thinks wide open.
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