In the book that I am re-reading and that I keep talking about, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, the narrator, Oskar, who is 9 years old, and one of the most endearing characters in all of literature, is constantly inventing things or ideas in his head. Here are two of his inventions that I can't stop thinking about.
What if the water that came out of the shower was treated with a chemical that responded to a combination of things, like your heart-beat, and your body temperature, and your brain waves, so that your skin changed color according to your mood? If you were extremely excited your skin would turn green, and if you were angry you'd turn red, obviously, and if you felt like shiitake you'd turn brown, and if you were blue you'd turn blue.
Everyone could know what everyone else felt, and we could all be more careful with each other, because you'd never want to tell a person whose skin was purple that you're angry at her for being late, just like you would want to pat a pink person on the back and tell him “Congratulations!”
Another reason it would be a good invention is that there are so many times when you know you're feeling a lot of something, but you don't know what the something is. Am I frustrated? Am I actually just panicky? And that confusion changes your mood, it becomes your mood, and you become a confused, gray person. But with the special water, you could look at your orange hands and think, I'm happy! That whole time I was actually happy! What a relief!
An ambulance drove down the street between us, and I imagined who it was carrying, and what happened to him... Was there any chance I knew him? Did anyone see the ambulance and wonder if it was me inside?
What about a device that knew everyone you knew? So when an ambulance went down the street, a big sign on the roof could flash
DON'T WORRY! DON'T WORRY!
if the sick person's device didn't detect the device of someone he knew nearby. And if the device did detect the device of someone he knew, the ambulance could flash the name of the person in the ambulance, and either
IT'S NOTHING MAJOR! IT'S NOTHING MAJOR!
Or if it was something major,
IT'S MAJOR! IT'S MAJOR!
And maybe you could rate the people you knew by how much you loved them, so if the device of the person in the ambulance detected the device of the person he loved the most, or the person who loved him the most, and the person in the ambulance was really badly hurt, and might even die, the ambulance could flash
GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU! GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU!
There are so many more passages I'd like to copy. There are so many moments in this book when I feel like I love this boy Oskar, a totally fictional character. I love him and think about him even when I'm not reading, and I think I must love him because he's sensitive like I am and anxious like I can be, and if I love him then I probably actually love the person who created him, Jonathan Safran Foer, or I just love all people who understand me like Oskar seems to.
What if everyone always remembered that everyone else has a story, has conflicts, has love and pain and laughter and dreams and secrets and let-downs and we are all just doing the best we can do?
That's how this books makes me feel. It makes me feel more gentle and so full of love for everyone else. It makes me understand everyone else a little better.
And that makes my boots both heavy and light all at the same time. (If you've read the book, you understand exactly what that means.)