When I was a child, I engaged in wallpaper meditation. I would sometimes would sit on my bed and stare at my bedroom wallpaper, a yellow pattern I can’t recall, a color of hope and childlike cheer. I wondered what, if anything, changed when I saw the wallpaper up close versus taking it in from afar. So close that the pattern washed away, leaving behind the mere idea of a wall. So far that distance washed away the design, the repetition of shapes blurring into a smear of sun.
Would new images materialize if I stared at the wall long enough? How long was long enough? If photographed, would the paper’s pattern fill the lens and the printed picture, or would a new image emerge, something more real than the paper on the wall in the house of my childhood?
From my bed, I leaned forward, pressed my forehead against the paper. I got up, peered in from the hall.
Zeroing in with such urgency, what were the odds I would ever come to understand what I was aiming for?
I’ve never been a fan of the color yellow, yet my bedroom was papered in yellow. Back then, I rarely shared an opinion with anyone on most any subject, my favorite answers, “I don’t know” and “I don’t care.” I seemed to be at all times indifferent, my presence so fluid that it merged seamlessly with his, hers, theirs, yours.
Over time, the wallpaper meditation questions of youth become the questions of mindfulness in adulthood. It’s in adulthood that the reason why takes infinite forms and iterations, the clarity so close it feels within reach, the confusion layered in a land that has imposed an eternal travel ban.
“Why” becomes “how do I learn how to live without ever knowing ‘why.'”