Monday, July 29, 2019

How to notice things

My daughter and I carried our take-out from Himalayan Kitchen toward the car. At the edge of the parking lot a woman--her back to us--squatted in front of a small black dog wearing a light blue collar lying on the sidewalk. "Should we give her food?" my daughter asked. I pulled out a box of tandoori mix--no rice--and we walked back a few feet. "Would you like something to eat?" I asked. "What is it?" she asked. "It's from the Himalayan restaurant; try it!" I said. She was a white woman with leathery face, sharp hairs on her chin, who said she had friends who might eat it. "You should have just said it was meat," my daughter said.

My daughter wondered why one reader had started to cry. Her story was about blessing the new culinary school building beside Leahi (Diamond Head). The walls of the old volcano were scrawled with graffiti, and junk was piled around it. (She didn't mention the graveyard of tourist hats below the look-out.) She cried and said, "Ku kia`i o mauna."

On my walk through the cemetery with Lilith, I see a hot dog stand set up in front of the Japanese Buddhist temple. Two hot dogs and a drink for $6. The truck beside the food tent has two Hawai`i state flags in the bed. They are not flying upside down.

Write 10 sentences without using a metaphor, advises the man who thinks we should notice things better. I get the point, but wonder if metaphor is not a way of seeing something with precision. It depends on how quickly you accelerate past immanence and into the next lane.

The beautiful little boy wearing a smile and a tee-shirt that reads "birthday dude" is dead.

The beautiful little boy smiles at me from my computer screen. He was playing in a bouncy castle when he was shot by a man with an AK-47. "Who would shoot up a garlic festival?" we hear one woman ask on an iphone video. "Over-priced crap," said the gunman.

I see a flower on the road; it resembles a soft sea urchin with weak spines that end in pink highlights. I see a dead boy on television, but only as a living one. I see his killer taking a selfie at the festival where he shot randomly. I see the killer's book recommendation, like a Good Reads for murderers. I see my dog turn her nose into the wind. How to notice the world around you. How to do so without judgment. How to love yourself, your friends, and then your enemies. How to make beauty of your suffering, without merely aestheticizing it (Ocean Vuong).

One woman was at an olive oil tent, another was selling toe rings, and another honey. Parents were feeling their kids garlic ice cream. A grandmother reports that her 10-year old grand-daughter looked the gunman in the eye. Find me the redemption in these details.

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