Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today was an excellent day for facefinding in the clouds. This is something that I dearly love to do! Since I was a kid it has been very natural for me to see extra images in some of the things I look at. I suppose it's brain wiring.

I was thinking about this characteristic on my daily walk to work, and I found myself sucked back to my childhood. I saw in my mind, as if I were standing in the just-for-formal-visits front room of the house I grew up in, the enormously tall tulip tree across the street behind the neighbors' house. Its branches looked like a big head in profile. It reminded me of my mom when her hair was very short. And there were two smaller heads below it on either side.

I spent a lot of time with those three when I had to practice the piano. I sat
so many hours of each week on that little bench in that room, with no one for company but the Steinway grand, music books, my elementary and middle school anxieties, and my imagination. I would stare out and up at them and wonder what it was like for a bird to sit casually on one of their noses so ridiculously high above the ground. The possibility, even, seemed preposterous and wonderful. The wind would make those tree people sway sometimes, and fidget, and thrash around very animatedly, and whisper. Sometimes they were still. Sometimes they were silhouetted and dark, and sometimes they shone, glimmering, in the sunlight. I watched them converse and interact with each other. I couldn't ever make out what they were saying of course, they being on the other side of the window and so far away and up. But even the distance and the glass separating them from me couldn't buffer the feelings and personalities that my imagination drew out from them. They were interesting and special.

I can remember a couple of occasions as a kid trying to draw the faces I saw in the trees and clouds and such. It was very frustrating (because it was impossible). I would get very excited by how remarkably
just like an old lady with shiny beady eyes those branches looked like, and think it was too coincidental and rare a picture to not try to record it with pencil and paper. My attempts never worked even a little bit. I think the reason is this: in every instance, the face I see is a magical thing made of shadows and subtleties and layers of shapes and spots of light--and a transient cognitive connection which my eyes and imagination tripped across--and no scribble onto paper or attempt to delineate and define and shape what I am seeing would ever come close to conveying it. I eventually began to realize that if there are remarkably facelike faces all over the place outside, and that if I look at one long enough I can sometimes see a few more in its place, I should probably stop being so surprised. But I still love it. I really think magic is a core element in all of this. It's a sensation that is so personal, bright, ethereal and strange.

The hills and red rock formations of Utah are especially crowded with faces and figures, to the point where sometimes I can hardly see the landscape as such at all. It's more like a teeming mass of characters jostling each other in order to be noticed by me. It's only sometimes though; only if I really let my brain get into it and too involved to think about or notice much else. I have always enjoyed meeting people and things in the sky and trees and rocks around me. At this point in my life, though, it's so much better because I'm a happier and healthier person, and so also, therefore, are my perceptions and observations. I see things everywhere and think a lot about what I'm looking at, but it's like my environment and I are on warmer terms now, and the sights I see and the thoughts I think have lost so much of their sinister and gloomy tint. Walking outside today, it felt like my eyes and the world were having a lively conversation.


Sid said...


annilyns said...

I know this feeling quite well. There is a swirl on a tile in my shower that looks exactly like a bemused Norwegian man with quite a protuberant nose.

Annie said...


laura said...

annie, I know this has been up forever and the more i've thought about it, the more i realize that i will never have the brain to be a fantastic doodler like you! i'm serious! i'm still so jealous of your doodles. i think you're brilliant.