Last week, it snowed so hard that the city became a silent hamlet, and depressing jokes were made about how one only notices how many elderly people there are in this city when they are not around to cram the buses and cafes. Then the snow receded like a hairline, leaving emptiness in its wake: and the farmer's market, which the week before was as populated as a spring field with flowers, lay bare, with but a few vendors at the stalls.
I walked through it in a haze, nothing to take my attention outside of myself as per usual - until a frustrated seller at one of the stalls shouted at someone in protest: "This is not a boutique!"
How that made me laugh, deep in my heart. I imagine that a woman with nothing better to do, having suffered recent cabin fever, was releasing tension by provoking a poor seller just trying to do an honest day's work. Do you have it in a larger size, no, not that size, but the half size, no, not that shade of blue...
Just looking. Like that Rumi verse, "These spiritual window-shoppers, who idly ask, 'How much is that?' 'Oh, I'm just looking.' They handle a hundred items and put them down, shadows with no capital." I think such window-shopping applies to theory: by window shopping, one can get an idea of the clothes in the window, but unless one has the experience of having tried on scores of garments, one will not know by looking if the clothes will fit. Without experience, the theoretical belongs to the flâneur.
Unless one has walked a thousand moons in another man's moccasins, or has a great well for the resonance of empathy, the object (or subject) is removed: one does not possess it. Through empathy, or affinity, one can possess more than one owns. One is open to enjoy the thing: like how one can feel another's success as if it were one's own.
But since some people like to magnify their brains through reductionism of all else, they come up with odd ways to sweep mismatched bedfellows under the carpet of theory. This is not the same as having universal ideals to guide our understanding. Without knowing something about the nature of life, theory is as superficial as window-shopping.
Experience unfolds gradually, like a flower. Who could painstakingly spend their days patiently watching a flower bloom? Only the person who loves the flower could bear to do that - and through such shared time, the person's relation and feelings toward the flower change. Almost imperceptibly, but enough to impact their understanding of the flower. To experience together is to transform perception. Life is not a boutique. "You come and buy in the market and go back to your homes laden with goods, but the spell of homeless winds has touched me I know not when and where. I have no care in my heart; all my belongings I have left far behind me."