Seeing things: Faces in the wood


It’s been one of those frenzied evenings that is a bit too productive – as evidenced by the sudden disappearance of unanswered emails from my email inbox. In an overzealous and optimistic fit of some sort, I archived a handful of messages and had to go back and find them. Funny how you can think you’re so on top of it, so organized and yet are still doing silly, thoughtless stuff like that.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep (like now) I stare at the ceiling and try to see things in the knots and patterns in the wood. I have never been a visual person (at all) and often don’t see things that are right in front of me – but all my life I have had a strange fascination with staring at pieces of wood or even wood paneling to discern images or – usually – faces. I remember seeing distinct faces in some wood paneling during my childhood and actually feeling some kind of empathy with these people hidden in the wood. One “woman” looked so worried and mysterious. Half of her face was hidden, as though she were standing behind a door, maybe eavesdropping on a conversation in the next room or … who knows what? This was the kind of storytelling that would play itself out in my head as a child (also when I struggled with sleep).

To this day, imagination and any visual inclinations long ago beat out of me, I find faces in wood. Just now I looked up and quite suddenly the knots appeared as the face of a baby seal. Hahaha. I know – it sounds crazy. I cling to this in some way though because it is a kind of creativity that is not really a part of who I am – and I think if I had more discipline or interest, I might be able to focus it better to use it for something more than seeing things that are not there in pieces of wood.

(Makes me think of the ridiculous and bad Jim Carrey film The Mask, when his character takes his wooden mask to someone – to get some answers or something – I don’t know, I barely remember the film – and the Ben Stein character dryly comments, “This is a piece of wood” after Carrey’s character tells him an outlandish tale about what the mask can do. Never in my life did I imagine an occasion on which I would cite The Mask for any reason. Oh, and don’t let it scare you or make you feel old or anything, but The Mask turns 20 this year…).

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