Recently, I visited Scotland. In a few brief days, I explored Edinburgh and the areas around the Scottish/English border.*
I had the opportunity to climb through the ruins of buildings, mostly churches and monasteries. These carefully preserved, centuries-old stones stand as monuments to a distant and somewhat mysterious past.
On these stones, underneath this sky, people grew up, grew old, and died. They dreamed; they toiled. They honored some promises and betrayed others.
And we can never really know.
Each day we interact with people. We look at their actions, their words, and try to understand what they’re about. They leave clues but the clues can be misleading. They are always incomplete.
And from that, we construct ideas about their world view, their concerns. We assume we know why they are the way they are, and why they do what they do.
But we can never really know.
We might tell ourselves highly interesting and creative stories that might be close to the truth, but the story will always be just that – a fiction our own making.
We are all a mess of interweaving rooms, forgotten storage attics and broken windows. We are at once more spacious and more cramped than our outer shells would indicate. Only we know the view from our windows.
So why bother trying know someone else? To excavate the ruins of their past and speculate on the construction of their thoughts?
Maybe it’s because the very act of imagination illuminates not just our loved ones, but the walls and cracks of our own inner lives. Where are we grand or small, sturdy or broken? Because we are each all of these things, and so much more.
When we get curious about someone else, we get to continually discover new corridors, dusty windows and the wild laboratories deep within them, and with each new chamber a bit of who they are is revealed.
Even if we’ll never know the total picture with certainty, we can marvel at the beauty of each incomplete clue.
*Most of those photos can be seen at www.instagram.com/loradow. And I’m thinking of doing a post with just garden photos. I’ll link them here once I do it.
All photos taken by me with a Nikon D3400