Leaving my coat behind, 2024. Documentation of the action.
As we parted,
I had a memory about you.
You were with me when I fell in love.
You were with me when I ice skated in Central Park in the snow.
You were with me when I became a father.
But I never really knew you were there,
Until I was leaving you behind.
A part of you has stayed with me.
And a part of me has gone with you,
wherever that may be.
I walked into the cemetery. It was very peaceful.
It is a different space than the space outside of its walls. There are no questions, answers or advice in a cemetery. Only what we bring with us. Maybe the silence and timelessness of a cemetery allows a space for thinking to happen? It is strange that time is useless in a cemetery.
There was a beautiful feeling in the air. I remembered it from previous moments in life. The pace of the rhythm of the noise, the colour of the daylight, the smell of the air. Its as though optimism sits within the particles of the atmosphere. You can feel it as you breathe it in.
I had visited this cemetery on several occasions. I do not know anyone who is buried there, but the space runs alongside a path I occasionally walk on, so I naturally found myself wandering into the cemetery and curiously looking at the details on the headstones. It was slightly disturbing to see the name STE engraved in gold upon a plain black tombstone.
On the day of the action, I went back to that same grave to look at those letters. I know its not my grave, but it was odd to be aware of someone, with the same name as me, had died. It really drives home the fragile and transient nature of life. I remember finding a grave with someone who was born in the same year as me. I am always intrigued as to how they died.
I could imagine, in the future, there being a little QR code, or some digital link placed on the gravestone that gives you access to their online account. Here you can see a person’s life. Cemeteries becoming visual archives of entertainment.
A grave further down, had the name of its tenant and the phrase A well liked man engraved on it. I thought that was a strong statement and slightly too stern for it to be true.
The action came about when I was working with a man who left his coat on a chair at a café. He walked around all day without realising he did so. It was only until he needed his keys, did he realise that his keys were in his coat and his coat had gone. I found it interesting that his coat was irrelevant until he needed what was in it. We went back to the café where he believed he left it, but the café was closed, and his coat was gone. His house keys were in the pocket, as were his car keys. I remember him saying that he never locks his car or his house. I found this very strange, but I wondered if locking your car or house is a thing to do with being paranoid about being robbed. Most things that are robbed, are locked.
Anyway, he asked the security staff if they could look on the cameras to see what happened to his coat. The security staff came back thirty minutes later and confirmed, that the café staff had seen his coat on the chair and brought it inside. He said he would return and get his coat the next day. He returned the next day and collected his coat.
Instantly, I was intrigued by the mundane incident.
Moments of chaos usually start out with such small instances or mistakes, and they snowball into an eruption of chaos. Though I suppose it is difficult to determine when things are going wrong as you are amid it. And after it has gone wrong, it is too late.
I liked the idea of intentionally leaving my coat behind. Purposefully recreating the error of the human. A complete opposite to the idea of perfecting function.
Perfecting function is something that I feel is very apparent within the agenda of societal ideologies. Regardless of what the specific agenda in discussion is, the idea that the human should function, think and act with efficiency is certainly associated with programming for function.
To reduce mistakes, to reduce errors, to reduce ambiguity and create a harmonious functioning system, is utopian. I suppose the action of leaving my coat behind, is not just a comment on the incident, but a subtle rebellious response to the idea of perfecting function, and an appreciative nod toward failure, mistakes, loss and futility. Toward being human and toward life.
As I left my coat on the bench and walked away, I was overcome with a wave of memories associated to the coat. One of those memories was wearing it as I ice skated in Central Park in the snow. I felt sad as I left it behind. There was a moment when I thought about going back to pick it up, but I didn’t.
The cemetery seemed a peaceful place and a poignant location to leave something behind. I thought about leaving it under a tree or even leaving it at a café on the back of a chair. But there was an element of nostalgia; creating a situation that ends, that results in evoking memory.
Within the pursuit of perfecting function, Nostalgia is useless, and that is why it is important. Uselessness is undervalued.
Nostalgia is seen as procrastination, as it suspends the moment for reflection of the past. There is no room for it within functioning frameworks as they rely on function.
Nostalgia allows one to understand and reflect, to remember. To be transported within a flexible timeframe. Having flexibility in thoughts to revisit a moment, remove that, and place it within the contemporary, is important in creating foundations and structures to build a future upon or at least forge a path in which to walk down.
Without nostalgia, flaws, mistakes, uselessness, melancholy, joy, happiness, love, loss, life and death…we are nothing but functional systems of programming for purpose, if the system that reduce such things as worthless traits, becomes the dominant narrative.
I wonder if anyone picked the coat up? And if they did, I wonder what they did with it, and I wonder what they thought of the keys that I had made and placed in the pocket.
I wonder if they thought it was someone visiting a grave and had left their coat behind in the process.
I wonder if anyone will visit my grave who has the same name?