I found this poster when I was out for a walk recently. It was plastered on the side of a signal box at a railway crossing and it was clearly there for quite some time considering how deteriorated it was. There was no indication if it was supporting a cause or was part of an advertisement. Just a poster. The quote itself is not really a revelation but like anything else in life; until you hear it, read it or see it it’s not front of mind. I am glad I found it because it is now a reminder of the overwhelming materiality of our existence.
Thinking about the quote the first thing that came to mind was a line from a Pink Floyd song. Why? Who the heck knows but since I grew up listening to Pink Floyd it must have stuck. The song Wish You Were Here is one of my favourites from the album of the same name. The song, likely the best ballad ever written by a rock band (oh yeah, THAT’s my opinion), leaves us wondering if we can “tell a green field from a cold steel rail, cold comfort for change and a blue sky from pain”. Wow, pretty powerful images. The line that always got me though was whether we can tell a smile from a veil.
What was Roger Waters trying to say in that song?
Was he simply trying to get us to FEEL something? It seems like he was getting at an idea that humanity has become numb to feeling anything. The strong antitheses presented in the song such as challenging our recognition between heaven and hell is supported by a sentiment that we are lost souls swimming in a fishbowl year after year. To me, this presents such a strong image of our ability to forget to feel as we live our lives. That’s the great thing about art though isn’t it? You can interpret it in many ways, in your way.
As I think about the veil, I like to look at it this way. Instead of thinking whether I can tell the difference between a smile from something hidden from sight, a veil, I like to see the veil not as a pretence but in the more traditional sense as an translucent object. When you think about it in that context there couldn’t be a better feeling for the recipient or the person in the act.
Think that through.
Imagine the notion of a translucent fabric billowing in a light summer breeze, birds chirping and warm sunshine enveloping an air of quiet confidence. There is a look, a breath and then the smile. Bright and full of anticipation for what the future holds. To me, the smile from a veil symbolizes a moment when two worlds become one. This thought brings a whole different feeling to the sentiment.
What is it about moments like these?
Like hearing a great song. A song that you love, that speaks to you, like your Wish You Were Here. It gives you goose bumps doesn’t it? The tone, the melody, the cord progression, the changes and no matter what the genre might be, it leaves you feeling something. When it ends do you realize that you were lost for a few minutes?
What is that feeling?
Like the unconditional love from your dog. Unending, never to falter. How do you feel when you get home and it’s there to greet you at the door? Your dog is so happy to see you. What feeling do you get when taking it for a walk, your dog trotting along with a confident swagger, as happy as it can possibly be? You have time to think (for a change) and your dog has time to sniff out the world around it. Love it.
Time stands still.
Like a hug. Close, firm and with feeling. It lasts because it needs to last. The warmth you feel from the embrace is something that cannot be put into words, at least not any words that will to do it justice. A deep breath surely follows along with a sense of calm. We can try to put it into words but we understand the feeling and the feeling is what makes it so perfect.
Or. How about this one?
Like an unsolicited call from an old friend. You know, that buddy you haven’t heard from in a long, long time. That guy you grew up with and went through so much with when you were both young and foolish. How great is it when you catch up? There is no end of stuff to talk about. You laugh your ass off about the historic stupidity and fun times and then get real about what curveballs life has thrown you lately. You commiserate because you will always see eye to eye.
Damn, it’s good to talk to that guy, isn’t it?
Like a Sunday morning in bed. Tucked in under the sheets with nowhere to go. You can feel the weight, the secure embrace of the covers and the warmth of the sun silently streaming in. It’s quiet, serene. You can hear yourself breathe. You can actually hear yourself think as you drift in an out of sleep slowly wakening to the day. You have time to consider what this day will bring. You can just feel the calm.
The best things in life are not things.
Those are some of mine. What are yours?