Leaning my temple against the moist, smudgy window of the bus, I thought “My, how I like the coldness.” (Why yes, I do use the softly exclaiming “my” when thinking to myself). After running that sentence through my head again, the word “coldness” began to sound odd. Have you ever stared at a word and see it change before your eyes into something suddenly foreign? The word is still there in its usual form, but your brain starts oozing at the sight of it. It’s as if staring at a mundane word is equivalent to immersing yourself in a sensory deprivation chamber. When the brain doesn’t sense signals coming from the outside, your brain starts looking inward and making stuff up as it goes along. It’s like an LSD trip (without the repercussive brain damage).
“Coldness” isn’t a particularly strange word, but it’s also not a word I use too often. “Cold” is usually sufficient and more often appropriate. However, “cold” wouldn’t have fit in that thought that I had come up with against that bus window. “My, how I like the cold…?” No, it doesn’t work. “Cold,” as a noun, is a thing in itself. It’s a solo noun, a “solitary man,” mumbled Neil Diamond. “Coldness,” on the other hand, is a trait. It is part of something else – a tag-along noun. You don’t get out of the coldness. You either get out of the cold or get out of the coldness of the wind. The cold nips at your nose; the coldness of the snow stings your toes. “Coldness” always has a host.
A reason I don’t use “coldness” very often is that I simply use the adjectival “cold.” “My, I like how cold the window is.” But it’s an adjective. It’s even more dependent on having a host than the tag-along noun. “Coldness” at least has the honor of falling under the category of “thing” of the “person, place, thing, or idea” pot. The “cold” adjective is not even a thing. (Yes, it is a word, which is a thing, but you know what I mean).
These are the kinds of things one thinks about after a long day during dead week. Who cares about calculating the electromagnetic field around two electrons or analyzing the morality of parenting licenses. Words, meaning, language, material feeling, aimless wanderings – the things we think about and the places we go. These aren’t assigned tasks. They aren’t graded, scrutinized, lobotomized, or otherwise tainted. They’re your thoughts. Lean your head against the glass and be free to think. My, how we all love the coldness.
Where does your mind wander? What familiar words suddenly become unfamiliar to you? Share them below.