We met too locally.
Had we met on a distant planet we’d have so much still to recall.
The press of sunshine on your face – remember that? The hiss and shush of waves through shingle?
I’d sneak you a chocolate bar from the mother planet.
And you’d smile your smile.
(Frost’s Ornithopter 1902)
Albert is excited to have been asked to speak at a conference in Budapest on the ‘The Importance of Loneliness.’ Albert is delighted to be going, but less keen on flying there. Sitting on the plane before take-off he explains his concerns to a member of the cabin crew.
‘You know,’ Albert says, ‘I’d find the whole flying thing a good deal more convincing if the wings could flap up and down a bit rather than just sticking out so rigidly. This air pressure explanation makes absolutely no sense to me.’
The air steward, whose first language might not be English, frowns and nods his head solemnly.
‘I will speak in a moment with the captain,’ he says. ‘See now what we will do.’
Think you know someone?
Think you have the full picture?
Nah, you just have little dots. You join them up and say – look, a person!
But think about those constellations at night. You actually see a big dipper up there? Nope, me neither.
Dots and hope: that’s all we have.
Albert is asked to sing a solo in the choir. At first, he says, ‘No, I’m more of a team player.’ Then he reconsiders. ‘I should take some chances in life,’ he thinks. ‘I’m too timid.’ At the next rehearsal he tells the music director, ‘I will do the solo, if that’s okay.’ The music director is delighted.
Albert’s friend, Jeffrey, asks him why he’s looking for more stress in his life. ‘You’ve already got a stressful job, Albert,’ he says. ‘Why go looking for more hassle?’
‘It’s not more stress,’ Albert says. ‘It’s something non-work to look forward to.’
But that night he wakes up at 3am in the morning in the middle of complicated dream about how he’s not rehearsed enough and the concert has been moved forward three weeks and nobody has told him and there’s a diminished rising interval he just can’t get right in the rehearsal and everyone’s smirking at his terrible singing and there’s nowhere to practice before the concert begins…He sits up in bed, sweating.
‘Bog,’ Albert says to the universe. Because Albert really hates it when his friend Jeffrey is right.
My philosopher friend tells me the only certainty of life is death. But what does he know? He’s never even met you. There’s no way he can be aware of another defining constant in the universe: that your first words upon return from work will concern the pulling of curtains.
Albert used to be scared of heights. So he simply avoided tall buildings and bridges. That was easy. But now he’s frightened whenever he looks up. He pictures himself rising inexorably through the exosphere and floating off to hostile environments where no-one cares what he’s doing or where he’s going.
We took our telescope up the hill: his mother had died not long before and it was something to do. After the coldest hour of searching we finally found it –Saturn with all its rings! See, I wanted to shout, perhaps things might be ringed in surprising ways after all.