Here I wish to share a story about Mr. Swan and I.
In the late spring, the night was long in coming but eventually, I met Mr.Swan by the Töölö bay, out of the blue, but seemingly predestined.
The sunbeams would eventually shine through, neat and thin, threading through the whirling leaves and splashing on the ground. A nighttime breeze tickled my bare scruff and while I was shivering from the cold, I caught a glimpse of Mr. Swan.
In his white suit and grey beanie, Swan glided towards me, gracefully, leaving no trace of his motion behind. I checked my pocket quickly and partly subconsciously only to discover that I didn’t have my iphone with me. “Damn it”, I exclaimed under my breath. Fortunately, the frustration dissipated promptly. I continued gazing at Swan, and gradually reached down on my knees. His dance overwhelmed my vision. It was a dream-like experience, like a lone waltz in the moonlight. I was so overwhelmed that I burst out into tears. I hoped dearly that Swan would notice me. Even a hint of recognition would made me swell with happiness.
Suddenly, we made eye contact. Can you imagine an instant of weightlessness? My head was light, as if my feet were floating off the ground. I saw a reflection in his eyes, growing bigger and sharper. It was mine, a face as pale as a ghost with eyes glinting avidly and lowly. “Quack, quack, quack”. Swan swiftly spread his wings, then craned his neck to cry at me, as if he was about to poke my eyes out. I heard the clack of my butt on the ground, which immediately brought the weightless sensation to an end. I picked myself up from the ground, gasping to draw back from him.
Mr. Swan stood right in front of me. I saw the sparks in his eyes. It was a raw, wild, animalistic, uncontrollable rage. Swan swaggered around for a while, then ceased all his fury, slowly turned back, waddled his way back to the lake broke out a loud burp.
It was only then that I realized the yellowing tail feathers, scraggy figure. His webbed feet were wet and wrinkled, like a pair of old rain boots stuck to his bony legs. He glided away slowly, faded from sight. The encounter seemed to have never happened.
With envy, I have been observing the lives of others, just as watched Swan. I live in a movie in which I take no part. I have outsourced my memory functions to my cyber brain, using techy boxes to capture the world, sealing those vivid sensations into flat frames. Eventually, the future stretches mine and others’ past into thin threads and knits them recklessly into a glossy screen. It then projects the reflection of the whole world that we can gaze forever, as if we own it.
Isn’t it so that nothing makes sense in this world? Bumping into other beings, we count on each encounter to breathe meaning into the mundane. Indeed, these moments, these random rendezvous, are the only possessions we have to look away from the ‘glossy screen’.
When my life was turned into a gaze, Swan’s raging cry is a truly precious revelation. I don’t want to be someone else’s Swan nor to feel ashamed of being the less fabulous me.
Text: JiaKun Wang