When I was 18 I moved to Toronto from a small town and lived on Spadina Avenue where the rent was atrocious and traffic seldom slowed down. There is no such thing as silence in the core of a large city. Unable to sleep, I had learned a trick to cope with the revving engines, horns, shouts and sirens.
I would turn on the TV and tune it to an empty space between channels. Immersed in the constant stream of static, I would fall asleep quite easily. If I was restless – which was often in those days – I would watch the screen.
As I slowly moved towards dreams, I became intrigued with the patterns that would briefly emerge on the screen, and then fade, emerge and fade, like waves cascading through my imagination.
A fascinating tidbit of information about static on a TV screen, which you may not know and which I didn’t know then, is that a part of it comes from the origins of our universe exploding into existence from nothing. Well, many say “nothing,” but it is what I would describe as a field of pure potentiality.
Stare at a static TV screen long enough, stare into the scattered breadcrumbs left behind from the origins of creation, and you will see things too – faces, shapes, gestures and patterns And nothing you see comes from any place other than your own memories, your dreams, your hopes, your fears, perceptions, prejudices, and passions, as well as the physical structure of your ever-evolving human nervous system.
The same thing happens when you gaze upon the clouds above you, or look at your own face in the mirror, or the faces of anyone nearby, or into your memories, or into the future.
We see and hear mostly what we are wired to perceive. It takes more time to see things in a static TV screen only because we’re unaccustomed to staring at such a thing and because its such an obviously blank canvas to work from.
If you find this hard to believe, try staring into the static for five minutes. Ask yourself what you see while you remind yourself that you are witnessing the origins of creation.
Then do exactly the same thing, staring into the eyes of the person you love most in this world.