Skies are compositions

23 Feb 2018

Deep in his commute to work O takes his eyes off the license plate in from of his car and drags his gaze skyward. It’s the end of a long Wednesday and he left work late, at just the wrong time: every other commuter in Boston seems to be on the road right now, attempting to return home. His car is at an absolute standstill amidst the crowd. The now familiar cacophony of horns, rumbling engines, and thickly accented heckling surrounds him. But his eyes have seen something. There is only a small swath of space at the top of his windshield through which the sky is visible, but as soon as he finds it with his eyes he is transfixed.

“Hey, buddy, get a move on, will ya?“

The call is audible even through the closed windows car windows, and O presses gently on the gas, subconsciously, to inch slightly forwards. The sky vanishes for a moment, and he casts about wildly, looking for a — there!

Peeking out behind the bustle of the city and the leafless trees are pink and purple clouds, haphazardly splotched with watercolor and dramatically backlit by glowing orange rays of sunlight that appear to be vibrating with a kind of celestial song. The image of it all, the composition of color and space, makes tears fall gently down O’s cheeks. Suddenly all the noise surrounding him no longer sounds like simply noise, but rather music - the very sound of the scene he had been waiting for. Honking and engine rumbling align harmonically to raise the sight of the sunset to further heights, and he gazes through his window in a moment that never seems to end.

The traffic signal has turned green; there are a line of cars backed up behind his, angrily throwing on their blinkers and zooming around his stationary vehicle with shouts and raised middle fingers, but for O the surroundings have all become part of the same grand opera, and he notices none of their effects on him. His little green car is immobile in the middle of the road, in just the right place for him to see the colors. Eventually the light begins to fade; with a sigh, O brings his attention back to the road, and discovers the traffic signal to be red again. All the other cars have followed the green light, and he appears alone. Twilight drops. The memory of the sunlight is all he has left. He drives home slowly, trying to keep the image in his mind, but there is little his brain can do to recreate the art without imposing some of its own translation on top of it, and eventually he is left with nothing more than a distilled recollection of the experience: descriptions of the colors, words describing the sensations, approximations of the scenery, but an empty gap in the space reserved for the truth. Much later, when he would search his personal OmniCloud for this experience, he would be unsuccessful, for the technology he used to store his memories for their eventual return into society had not been able to tell the difference between this sunset and the one he saw the following day, and the following one, and had combined each of these memories in the same file in such a way that they blended together indistinguishably as simply sunsets. He has no time to shed a tear over this, however. The next experience is already beginning.