Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spatial ponderings

Every time I pass by that billboard (it's for Red Robin, I think) with the hamburger on it that says, "Please don't lick the billboard," I think, You know, no one would ever have thought to climb up that ladder and lick that billboard if those words weren't up there to defy. Why? Because people just don't climb up billboard ladders, as a general rule. (Of course billboard workers and hoodlums with spray paint are exceptions.)

In fact, nobody would think to even get off the highway there by that billboard, where there is no exit, and traverse the empty field to get to it, and even if they did they'd walk in a straight line, so the majority of that field is very rarely, if ever, touched by humans. But gajillions of humans driving across that highway every day look at it. They just never think to deviate from their nice asphalt path.

Isn't that strangely like a board game? Look at the board for The Game of Life, for example. There are mountains and forests and all this nice scenery that Milton Bradley bothered to include. But your game pieces never go there. They just stick to their paths. Sometimes I feel like there is a determined and finite number of board spaces that I'm allowed to move along - roads, hiking trails, hallways, sidewalks, the space around furniture, grocery store aisles, and the winding maze optimized for product viewing that is IKEA.

There are advantages to this - efficiency is the main one, with a small helping of protecting the environment on the side. Are there any disadvantages?

Then this morning I heard this news story on the radio. A six-year-old boy climbed into a hot air balloon and floated away by himself this morning. Now that's different. He didn't just get lost by leaving the path, he got lost by leaving the board. People don't usually go up accidentally - thanks to gravity - or down - thanks to the ground. (Unless you're on the ocean, I suppose. Water and air seem to be blessedly free of paths, or anything stationary.) I myself rarely operate outside of the slab of space between my feet and a couple of feet above my head (or, really, the slab of space between 4,549 feet above sea level and a few stories above that. Then there's always the occasional airplane.)

The balloon was found and taken down, but the little boy was not in it and they still haven't found him. So he must have jumped or fallen somewhere. It makes me sick to think about it. I'm sure he didn't make it. So maybe I'll just picture him getting truly lost in the sky, still up there, with a wonderful view of the whole game board from such a height.

4 reason(s) to click here:

Lacey! said...

He was in the attic the whole time. In his own words he "played for awhile, had a snack, had a nap, got bored, and came downstairs."

crittersherwood said...

One of the most liberating experiences of my life was the first time I rode a jet ski out on a huge lake. I've never had so much spacial freedom to just go wherever I wanted for so far in every direction. I could go fast or slow or even just stop and turn off the motor in the middle of the lake and enjoy the view. It was just so so wonderful and free. This made me think of that.

Grandma said...

Riding a bicycle gives me freedom too. It can go off the road where a car can't go, faster than walking, further than walking. When a kid has a bike, he can get places and see things outside his own neighborhood. When I'm on my bike, I feel like a kid who has escaped the board game, as you put it.

Ben said...

...and then, the terrible truth came out. The little boy was hiding in the attic at the behest of his father, who was using this little flight of fancy as publicity, for no clear reason. Going off the board physically vs. going off the board sociologically, eh?