Seeing things

I was inside behind my computer when I heard fast footsteps, many of them. It sounded like people on the run. No other sounds, just running. When it didn’t stop I went out on my balcony. A stream of people, most of them in bright yellow shirts were running through the streets. Not on the run. On a run. I watched them for a bit and suddenly a man in an old fire fighter costume ran by, a shiny helmet on his head and an oxygen tank tied on his back. I thought he had dressed himself up, just like the Elvis whom I saw running a marathon a few weeks ago. But then there was another man dressed up like a fire fighter. And two more. And another eight.

They weren’t dressed up. They were actual fire fighters. When I got back to my computer I read this 10 km run is called La Cursa de Bombers de Barcelona. Today was the 20th edition. According to tradition, four firemen form a relay team and each member of the team runs 2.5 km in full fire fighting gear which weighs almost 20 kg. They compete against other firemen teams to win the coveted Fireman’s team prize called 'Premio Especial al Bombero Equipado.'

It is interesting how you see what you think you see. And hear what you think you hear. You perceive what you know already. I thought I saw a man dressed funnily until I spend some more time watching. Like yesterday, when at the beach I saw hundreds of similarly shaped transparant plastic objects, some of them bright blue, until I looked better and realised they were sea creatures. And when the beach cleaners were whispering the word “Medusa” I thought they were talking about a huge jellyfish species with long tentacles, resembling the head of Medusa, the mythological creature because that is the only medusa I know. But medusa is the word for any jellyfish in Spanish and Catalan.

We perceive things with our senses but then we interpret them with what we know, which is often limited. Or we just don’t take enough time sensing, hearing, watching, before we come to a conclusion. It can go both ways though. It can lead to wrong conclusions that don’t do justice to what was actually happening or they can lead to confusion and broadening our knowledge of things. Only when we take the time to wonder if our first conclusion was right though. Taking time and the willingness to question your thoughts are essential.

When most of the runners were gone and a thin stream of people having more difficulties to keep up to speed was still occupying the steet, a group of serious looking men appeared on the steet corner. They weren’t there to cheer up the crowd. They talked on their phones and seemed to be waiting for something. They didn’t seem to be business men or regular tourists. Most of them were dressed in black. The odd thing was that one of them had a balloon tied to his arm. Over his head a shiny horse with wings was floating in the air. “Pegasus” I thought. The winged horse that was the love child of Poseidon and Medusa. He sprang from Medusa’s blood when Perseus decapitated her. He rode into heaven and subjected himself to Zeus, who instructed him to bring lightning and thunder from Olympos.

The men left, the horse flew off. The last runners passed. The road is open to the usual traffic again. People walk their dogs. All is back to normal, so to say. But the magic is still out there. If you know it, you will see it.

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