trusting the invisible visibly

 

trusting the invisible visibly

When we place our trust, is it with something or someone?

This is ‘Tilt’. Essentially you stand looking out the window on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building in Chicago. Then the windows tilt outwards. 30 degrees. You are then suspended, lying on a glass window, ninety four floors up.

As I queued to experience this, I was noticing my need to trust someone or something.

I looked at the mechanisms. The four hydraulic pistons that lowered the side of the building outwards. The size of the bolts. The seals on the glass. The steel framework of girders. The computer the operator used. I couldn’t see it, but I wondered about the software on that computer. I know only too well that this is often the weakest point.

Then I considered the operator himself. Could he be trusted? Was he experienced? I considered the designers. Surely they knew what they were doing? This was specialist. Then I considered the people who might have granted permission for this. The safety experts. I considered those who had tested it. Were they thorough? I looked at my potential fellow ‘riders’. They looked sensible.

Then I noticed I turned to rationality. It has been here a while and must have lowered many thousands of people. The safety testing and fail safe mechanisms must be all encompassing. Like a lift, this surely is designed with so many precautions? Glass and steel are used in applications requiring more stress and pressure than this.

Then I turned to irrational logic. Those kids are doing it. If they can, surely I can. Hang on though, those two people in front are overweight, and I’m going on with seven other adults. That’s more weight, what if it’s too much?  I ‘reasoned’ it couldn’t have failed, because I would have read about the eight people falling to their deaths.

By now my waiting time had been consumed by my trust exploration and I was up next.

I loved it.

So who or what was I needing to trust? I couldn’t tell if the mechanisms were sound as I’m not an expert. I would never meet the people involved in designing, testing or installing this.

Maybe I just needed to trust myself? Like I do every day I cross the road, or choose what I eat? Like I do when I choose everything I do and who I do it with?

The need to trust, is tangible in us. Yet trust itself, so intangible.

“oh I’m nobody…” she said


Looking to validate the time slot for our tickets to the ‘Journey behind the falls’ in Niagara, we approached the ticket desk. Two ladies were busy with customers. We wandered around the large circular installation, meandering through the maze of unecesssary, queue guiding, crowd controlling barriers. We passed a couple of unmanned service points, to a lady perched on a stool, in front of a screen.

“Hello.” she greeted us. Lovely big smile. We responded likewise, and made our request.

“Oh I’m nothing.” she said. “You need to wait, or go upstairs.” She gesticulated, with a noncholent wave of a hand.

I enquired as to her dismissal of herself, of her role, of her existence, of her identity, of her right to be. Not in those words, although it struck me she was doing just that.

Turns out she was ‘guest services’. There to help with anything general rather than provide a specific service.

That seemed like something. More than something. To me at least.

We smiled and departed.

What a shame she didn’t value herself. We should all value ourselves.

the formative journeys of a shared t-shirt dream

we share a dream

When we travel, we are sometimes physically apart from those we are most connected to. Family. Friends. Yet physical connections are only one way we share our lives.

This amazing t-shirt display at Buffalo International Airport (the picture only shows half) is an installation by Kaarina Kaikkonen, who works with large amounts of clothing to alter our perception of our shared spaces and shared lives. The 1000 t-shirts, which are tied together, were donated by the people of western New York. The linking of the shirts signals our movements together – the daily commutes, the migratory moments of our travels and the formative journeys we take in our lives.

It is called ‘We share a dream’.

Nice thought Kaarina.

when the mocha is identical, but not the same

This facade was familiar, if a little unsettling.  The colonial look unexpected, but befitting the environment of the town and surrounding shops. On entering though, the internals were reassuringly recognisable, for that particular coffee shop brand.

Feeling safe and on solid ground, I approached the young man behind the counter. “I’d like a tall salted caramel mocha please.” I said.

He politely and cheerily replied “Sure sir, I just need to let you know we’ve run out of the usual syrup, so we’ll put in another one. But it’s identical.” He punched some buttons on his display, already in slick, automated drink delivery mode.

“No it’s not.” I said.
“Not identical.”

He paused, holding a cup, looking a little taken aback – possibly not used to a challenge, or to my English humour? He looked a little less certain, but meekly offered, “It normally has toffee nut syrup in, but we can put hazelnut in instead. It tastes just as good.”

“But not identical?” I offered

“No.” he conceded, before asking me my name, to write on the cup which would soon contain my ‘similar’ salted caramel mocha.

The other day I ordered a chilli (chile?) mocha. Medium, this time. The girl taking my order asked, “Hot or cold?”

“That’s sophisticated.” I grinned.

She looked puzzled.

“…to offer different varieties of chillies?” I said.

She laughed. “I meant do you want a hot drink or a cold one? … That’s good though.” she muttered, grinning widely.

Pedantic? Maybe?

I like to think I engaged this young man and woman in some banter. Something to add a little spice to the daily grind of latte, cappuccino, chai tea…

A little variation, a little change, a new reflection, a new awareness, a smile. All good ingredients for drinking in life.

to Helen, Eva and park benches everywhere…


How fabulous to love park benches.

They are a stalwart of relaxation, of musing, of watching the world go by, of enjoying the view, of putting the world to rights, of watching the children play, of just enjoying a book.

And how glorious to have a park bench commemorating your life and loves, of each other and of park benches…

It’s not in a park. It’s on a road. Albeit a very nice road. I wonder what Helen and Eva thought about roads? Even nice roads?


This bench in Niagara on the Lake sits outside a theatre celebrating the works of George Bernard Shaw though. So maybe that’s enough.

It’s nice that something marks our existence and the things we enjoyed.

the contradictions of light

sunrise over Niagara Falls

We are fascinated by light.

Our world is governed by it. Sunrise, sunset. Morning, night. Seeing, not seeing. Awake, asleep. Healthy, poorly. Life and death. Light controls our biological rhythms. As living creatures we are inextricably linked to light.

We are drawn to light, like moths almost. Who hasn’t paused to watch the sun rise or set? Who hasn’t marvelled at the richness of colour in that morning or night sky? Glistening dew and its water droplets reflecting sunlight. Sunlight dancing through a wooded canopy. A flash of lightening startling the dark sky.

We use light in idiom too, reflecting the importance of light to us. Idioms like: Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. A guiding light. In the light of… Out like a light. Shed light on. The light dawned. The glint in your eye. Even enlightenment, or seeing the light, to describe finding a connection to something greater.

And we try to replicate light in our manufactured world. Fluorescent light, incandescent light, light emitting diodes, laser lights etc.  We use them to create brightly lit advertising displays, televisions, laptops, mobiles, rooms, houses…

I took this picture of sunrise over Niagara Falls this morning. Somehow, the man-made advertising light on the hotel seemed to destroy the majesty of the sun.

It served as a reminder of our fascination, alongside our abject inability to come close to the wonder of the natural world.