A number of years ago, a friend asked me to picture and describe each of the following objects: a cube, a horse, a ladder, and a storm. I remember pretty vividly the descriptions I gave, because years went by and they looked exactly the same whenever I thought of them.
The cube: The cube was small. 1″ x 1″ x 1″ It was made of crystal, but had a blue tint. I remember stating that “it can fit in the palm of your hand” which is where I pictured it.
The horse: The horse was beautiful. I couldn’t begin to tell you what type of horse it was. If I could send the thought in my head to my wireless printer (how long before we have that technology available?) I’m sure my friend and dressage aficionado, Dr. O., could tell us, but I can’t [yet] so you’ll have to settle for my second- or third-rate description. It’s a deep, dark liver chestnut color. With a black mane and tail (I can’t believe I just spelled them main and tale… thank heaven for backspace so you’ll never know). And little black leg-warmers. Not actual leg-warmers, but like the horse is wearing his black fur where leg-warmers would go if horses wore leg-warmers. The horse is nowhere near me or the cube. He is running freely through an open field. He is well-muscled and lovely to look at. And apparently he is also a he. He is the type of horse that even people who don’t like horses are compelled to stop and take notice.
The ladder: I had the hardest time picturing the ladder. I couldn’t really put it in relation to the horse or the cube. The nearest I came was that it was leaning near the stable, but since the horse was off stretching his legs, that didn’t really mean much. Not that everything has to be connected, but my mind works to make connections. So there you have it. And my friend asked where all these things are in relation to each other. Or my cube. Or something. The ladder was made of wood or aluminum. It depended on the day I thought about it. I think I even asked to change my answer more than once. It had four rungs (and probably one “this is not a step” piece because I really have an aversion to even numbers).
The storm: If I recall correctly the storm I pictured came from nowhere (I wasn’t asked to picture all four items at once, but one at a time). So I had my little cube, my horse, and my ladder all peacefully existing when I was asked to picture a storm. It was massive. Lots of electricity. Lots of lightning. And rain. Big, wet, heavy, drenching rain. All around. Pretty extreme. Lots of wind.
My friend typed out what each of the items symbolized and how my descriptions enhanced their meaning. He said that once someone knows, you really can’t do the exercise (which is one reason I’m not stating what each item symbolizes… don’t want to ruin it for any of my hitchhikers one day). But to be honest, even knowing what each means, doesn’t change the way I picture them. I surprised myself the other night when I thought of them again… because they all look so different in my mind now.
The cube has changed the most, I think. I first realized it changed a year or so ago, but I didn’t really take much time to consider it until more recently.
My cube: It’s bigger now, but would still not be described as large. It’s not a perfect cube, either. It’s a square with beveled edges, and not as thick as it is tall and wide. It is encased in iron, and is part of a much bigger mosaic stained glass window. It is still crystal, but has no colored tint. Everyone who wants can see it and appreciate its beauty from the outside, but only a select few can access it from the inside.
My horse: My horse is the same beautiful horse as before. He’s a little older now, and not quite so wild. He is standing solemn and contentedly in the field as I approach the wood split-rail fence. He looks up slowly to see me standing there, and hesitantly at first, but soon with great confidence approaches to be near me. The light reflected and refracted from my cube shines on us both from the building behind.
My ladder: My ladder is even more difficult to define now than it was then. I’m not sure why. It stretches out infinitely… with countless rungs. And this time the material is no material at all. It is CGI, so it can be anything I want or need it to be at any time. If I look around, I find it’s always within reach. From the highest rungs [that I’ve climbed… infinite, remember?], I can turn and see the earth below from beyond the atmosphere, gaining great perspective. Or I can lean on it near the bottom, with my feet in the cool grass and feel secure knowing it’s not going anywhere.
My storm: My storm is passing now. All that remains is the cool air, some rapidly dissipating clouds, and the occasional drop of rain from time to time. It is harmless now. It was magnificent and beautiful as it was raging in all it’s brilliance, but now it is calm and its beauty serene. Surveying the area, I can see puddles… some large, some small, some clear, and some muddy. And I look forward to splashing in them.
What do you picture, Hitchhikers, when you close your eyes and imagine a cube, a horse, a ladder, and a storm?