The sensation is somewhat surreal when it actually happens: sat on the stone steps of Angkor Wat, watching the sun rise. The rough stone on my skin, the mosquitos buzzing around my head, the cat that brushes up against me: suddenly the thing that had been abstract made real.
There are three spaces: first, an anticipation of the thing, second, experience of the thing itself, and thirdly the memory that we construct around the experience. Between these three spaces, anticipation becomes lived reality, preconceptions become simply perceptions, thought becomes experience.
This is how we illustrate our journey: aspiring to explore, experiencing the world, making sense of it, through multiple lenses.
Those lenses are cultural abstractions: the familiar is easy to locate, whilst that which is more distant in time or iconography, less familiar in style or reference is harder to make sense of. These things get bundled as ‘old’ or ‘weird’. Their meaning is lost and we resort to quantifying that which is definable: this is old, this is heavy, this is rough or smooth.
So much of the meaning of a thing is through association or reference that, bereft of those clues, we are left to anchor it’s meaning to our contemporary frame, which often lacks the context or depth required. Nothing has intrinsic meaning, only that which is imbued by the society that crafts or worships it.
This process of rationalisation and reflection is constant: what does this mean, how does it fit in my schema of the world? The physicality of lived experience is very different from that of seeing a picture in a book: assailed by the senses, the image that we create is undeniable and visceral. We cannot codify it by page reference alone, but rather scratch and scrape the meaning out of sensation and perception, interpreting it to fit into (or evolve) or versions reality that we hold dear and true. At least for today.
The thing of ‘that which i know’ is a fiction founded upon lived experience, tempered by alternative schemas and eroded by memory as we move from anticipation, through experience and into the writing of the story we craft through our lives.