If a frog doing yoga isn’t a frog at all, is it still doing yoga?
That frog in question is looking at me right now.
I should probably note that it isn’t actually looking at me because its eyes are closed. Also they don’t exist. He’s a ceramic frog, and really, not a frog at all, just ceramic that’s molded to make you think of a frog.
Still, to see it makes me feel happy, centered, and calm, just like there were really were a frog doing a headstand. In fact, even more so, because I’m not worried the frog will hop into my hair. Seeing his fake yoga has many of the effects of real yoga.
It’s everywhere, this strange phenomenon of things taking on more meaning than they should. The little Eiffel tower figure I got in Paris now means more to me than the real thing. A platter I got as a wedding gift is just a piece of glass, but it means love from the people who gave it, and years of cookies I’ve placed on it. That meaning can change, too, and not for the better. Sometimes I think the real wonder of Christmas is that all the decorations go from being magical to just clutter in just one night.
In fact, everything around us carries with it the glow of all the meanings of the past – lighting up our present in a powerful way. Places, people, and of course words, have powerful connotations. Those connotations might be unique to us as individuals or to us as families or communities.
As such, we may derive not just meaning but also community from objects – and an inordinate satisfaction from something that, in and of itself, is not made to satisfy.
It all becomes part of our own lens at seeing the world, like we all have on a form of tech glasses that put the info about a certain object around it as you look at it. It’s no wonder we often can’t understand each other when we all have different glasses.
This applies not just to humans, but to some animals as well. Cats who love the confinement of boxes will sit inside a square of tape on the floor. It doesn’t give the security of a box, but it reminds the cat of that security, and maybe that’s enough.
We fandom folks may do this more than most. A plastic triangular badge makes us feel a member of Starfleet, symbolizing our faith in humanity and innovation. Just the initials VFD are enough to cock the eyebrow of any Lemony Snicket fan. A blue police box is filled with tantalizing potential and the whiff of adventure – in fact, in Doctor Who there is an episode dedicated to objects given power and value with their associations.
It is a certain humble fruit that gives absurd happiness to one fandom. Pineapples are the jam of fans of the comedy Psych, which ran from 2006-2014 and followed the crime-solving duo of Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster. It was a glorious bromace, rife with wit and just plain silliness. Shawn pretends to be a psychic but is actually just very good at observation. That ludicrous conceit makes for comedy but also (for the most part) an unconventional sort of success at catching the bad guys. For instance:
Shawn: Good morning, detectives! Collecting donations for the Policeman’s Ball?
Lassiter: We don’t have balls.
Shawn: I honestly have no response for that.
Lassiter: Need I remind you, Mr. Spencer, what happens when you interfere with a police investigation?
Shawn: Uhhh… The case gets solved?
Through it all, the sharp eyed fans would try to spot the pineapple placed in every episode. Because why not?
To this day, even though I’m allergic to pineapples, the image of one fills me with glee since it reminds me of the image of a guy pretending to be a psychic when he was really just astutely observant. Humans are weird.
And so it is weird that I take such satisfaction from doing fake Crow Pose. Real Crow Pose is pretty darned cool, as it involves stooping over and balancing your knees on your elbows. Sadly, it requires an amount of core and upper body stretch I don’t quite have yet. And so I get into a sort of Crow Pose, but with my feet still on the floor, hoping I’m building up to it.
My fake crow is nothing to crow about. Ahem. But it makes me feel like I’m embodying the coolness of crow, and that’s really pretty good too. Possibly even better since there is less chance of me falling on my face (which happens almost every time my toes lift).
Our real pleasure from fake things may be bizarre, but so is reality. Whatever we’re looking at is just reflected light, being interpreted by our eyes and brain in ways that may or may not be consistent or accurate. “Fake” and “real” in and of themselves are words with associations.
There is truth out there, of course, and the necessity for real detectives, real frogs, real Crow Pose. But if we have an open mind, we realize our mind is open to interpretation. Thoughts and feelings aren’t in neat little jars, they’re swirling in a mashed-up stew. Let yourself glory in your fake Crow and your silly pineapples. Life’s too short to pretend you’ve got it all figured out.
Meanwhile I’ll be over here, staring back at my yogi frog.