“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
- Franz Kafka
Kafka was a pretty tortured existential guy, but he had a sense of humor. I think he would appreciate what I saw in my garden today. While eating my yogurt, I found a website that translates English into Latin.
For some reason, translating things into Latin gives them a distinguished appearance and the weight of profound reason. For example, how much more edifying to say “Bovina Sancta!” instead of the rather dated “Holy cow!” The wonders of the web also gave me the following which I’m thinking of carving on a stone and placing in my garden to mark the way: “Da mihi sis bubulae frustrum assae, solana tuberosa in modo gallico fricta, ac quassum lactatum coagulatum crassum”. Well, you might say, it’s a bit long. Yes, I say, but how much more edifying than “Give me a hamburger, French fries, and a thick shake”.
I’ve always been a big fan of words. The successful search for just the right words can, for instance, convert a dire condition into a charming social status. I prefer to characterize myself, not so much as morbidly obese, as hilariously fat. Likewise, my garden isn’t a jumble of neglected junk and ill-considered plantings; it is a whimsical and refreshing escape from the weight of the real world. Better minds than mine have disagreed about the tipping point when kitsch becomes art, so I’ll just say my garden has begun that journey, but it’s likely to be a while before it arrives at the finish line.
Who cares? I prefer my imagination to the consistency that is the hobgoblin, or troll, if you will, troubling little minds. Many years ago, a lady in Accounting informed me that, with regard to a specific accounting practice, “Sometimes we’re consistent, and sometimes we’re not.” Which, if I’m not mistaken, is the definition of inconsistent. I’m giving some thought to translating that into Latin and making it the new subtitle of my blog. Consistency is all very well, but not all of the time.
At any rate, a vivid imagination is necessary to fully appreciate the subtle details in my back yard. I sat outside on the porch swing in the first warm afternoon of the year, and I tried to take Kafka’s advice about sitting still. And then I noticed a magic troll hiding in the shadows under the bridge.
When our children see trolls under bridges, we dogmatic adults often tell them they are too credulous. The price of holding too tightly to your belief that there are no trolls under bridges may be miss the ones that lurk there. Who is missing more: Those who will question everything, or those who will believe anything? Today, I tried to believe a little bit more, and to question what I saw a little less. And there was the troll, not exactly rolling in ecstasy at my feet, but sitting in a meditative pose, and looking back at me in disbelief.