Who are we?
That is not so much a question as it is a mode of being. We are in flux. Each of us. We are these things called people, in a condition called alive, on a journey inside a body; and we call that a life.
Persistence of vision is the little trick that filmmakers use to convince us that a movie is happening in front of our eyes. Twenty-four unique images flash before us every second in order to convey an illusion of life. Each frame a frozen moment, like the memories we carry inside us, the photo album of our lives, the zoetrope of identity.
Pull out any one frame and there you’ll find a sliver of you, like a core sample of arctic ice that tells a story of an ancient climate. The photographs of us, the ones that are real and the ones we imagine are there inside us, like flipbooks, our thumbs passing over the corners again and again so as to keep the story moving, to keep the memories alive.
But at any given moment in linear time we are just slivers of a notion of ourselves. What we were thinking, then. What we believed, then. The mirror version, an image, a thought-stream. I have used the snowball metaphor too many times to use it again.
Of all the qualities that make us human curiosity is our great and determinant engine. Our evolutionary advantage is our obsession to know. It may prove to be our downfall too, but we are here today, rocketeers and atom-slingers, because something within us drives us madly to delve, to question, to cling firmly to the tail of mystery with the crazed claws of our imagination. And we ride that beast to whatever ends.
This ODE to Guy Hill is two-pronged. It is at once a tribute to a burning furnace of a curiosity engine and to another great human evolutionary bonus – friendship.
The friend, in its purest form, is uncommon, and is itself a mystery. Who can say what strange conditions of past and present place two bodies hurtling through space-time on a course of intersection so that rather than collide and destruct their trajectories align? They orbit together for a while, bound by a common gravity, and are cast off again into realms unknown. That alone is witness to the miracle of love. But when like comets they return again to share more ionized gas and stardust, that is a truly unique and spectacular phenomenon.
This ODE serves but one purpose, to thank him for being born, and for being in my life. Friends like this are angels with names. And maybe that’s what ODEs are all about. They don’t answer the question of who we are in terms we might want or expect. They give us these glimpses the true nature of us as sources of light and love.