All my life, I have been a scatterbrain.
I should clarify that I mean this with self-respect. And maybe a little bit of frustration. But just a little.
My brain can be scattered the way that marbles are scattered: unique, colourful orbs that roll off on various trajectories, nothing in common but their starting position. From a distance, some are more substantial than others, the opaque standing out from the transparent, but more often than not, the translucent suggestion of a substance not yet fully formed. It’s only upon closer inspection that the details and intricate variegations can be appreciated. It’s only upon closer inspection that the simplistic, opaque pieces can be differentiated from the others, their value clearly inferior. But more often than not, many of these marbles are scattered to the edges of my mind, only staying within the perimeter of my focus when slowed by friction or collision with some immovable object, the rest likely never to be seen again unless unearthed from under dusty mental furniture or from muddy idea-gutters, requiring a good cleaning to reassess their worth.
Often, my thoughts spring up like flowers in an English garden, a seemingly haphazard spray of bright blooms and foliage, as though handfuls of seeds were scattered to the wind, ready to land where they may. To the careful gardeners whose rows form perpendicular edges and careful parallel lines, this sort of visual chaos may lack the polish and precision they crave. To me, however, the wandering trails and meandering focal points have their own order, their own precision. The bright hues naturally stand out against the muted tones, drawing the viewer’s attention; it’s only in slow, attentive moments that the beauty of the paler flowers can be appreciated. While some flowers will grow to mere inches from the ground, others will tower over their neighbours, seeming to overcome the frailer and diminutive among them. But over time, as the plants naturalize and spread, they will find order amongst themselves, the tallest towering over the tiny, the smaller still finding their place in the sun. And all along, the shifting landscape evolves and flourishes, nurturing my need for change and adapting to the seasons of my life.
Sometimes, “my thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations” (John Green), their place in the starscape fixed and predictable, but slowly traversing the sky until they move out of sight, only returning when the earth shifts to just the right position in its orbit. The patterns are difficult to discern as the paler among the points of light reveal themselves in only the darkest of moments. But even on the brightest of days, when those distant thoughts seem most unreachable, there is comfort in knowing that they will continue to return so long as I let my eyes adjust to see the value and beauty in the coming darkness.
Of course, the beauty of these images doesn’t negate the challenges that they present. Marbles become tripping hazards when left unattended and go missing forever when thrown into the milieu of toy-box chaos, often found t to be outgrown if one ever locatess them again. Flower gardens overgrow if left unattended, their beauty succumbing to the strangling effects of weeds and decay. Stars are often difficult to see when observed against the backdrop of bright cityscapes, those hurried and congested centers of activity where much of the serious business of living takes place. Indeed, these are frustrating, even perilous circumstances if allowed to overwhelm one’s inner life.
But if enjoyed and tended and patiently observed, they have their own beauty. Their own precision. Their own order and logic and purpose.
In other words, I might be a scatterbrain. But I think that’s a quality worth appreciating.