I’ve taken to pouring milk for the morning coffee into this brightly colored little talavera cow I bought on Olvera Street last year. This morning I turned it over to look for artist’s name – quite often pieces of talavera, no matter how humble, are signed – and was disappointed to find none. I wondered who had made it, and where, and how their life was going, and said a little blessing for them – all of this in the space of about two seconds and almost reflexively, without explicit consciousness (it takes me a long time to wake up).
I read somewhere – and have never been able to find mention of this again – that in certain parts of Japan, there is ceremony to honor household objects – teapots, brooms, and the like – when they’re finally retired – a sort of thank you for years of faithful service. I found that irresistibly charming. I tend to get sentimentally attached to, well, most things, and I remember the mourning I felt when I had to discard the little alarm clock I’d had for fifteen years. Or the wastebasket I’d dragged along from house to house on my journeys. I always thank the little object for its service and feel like I’m walking away from a family member or something.
I often wonder about where things come from – who made them, what were they thinking about at the time, what were their worries, what they had to eat that morning, and so on – and I sometimes, though not often enough, offer up my little prayer to bless the person whose hands and/or labor made whatever it is I’m using at the time. In my idea of heaven, there is an ‘absolute knowledge,’ the gift of being almost-human, like walking through one’s day as a living person does, but looking at a window and asking, ‘Who lives in there? What country was her great-great-great grandmother from? Did that ancestor come on a ship? What’s her worst fear? When did she lose her virginity?’ and so on. It’s the ability to regard something and know about its entire net of existence.
I wonder if there are others who have these thoughts – there must be, somewhere, another person who thinks like me. Tree Guy calls this my ‘beautiful mind,’ and it’s a compliment in the following proportions: 99% ‘The way you think is stunning and amazing,’ and 1%, ‘You, my friend, are completely batshit crazy.’ I laugh. Maybe so. But I like the way I think – and I want to believe that those wide rings of thought and blessings reach out across the time, miles, oceans, and impossibility and find their intended target.