They took the thing we did and put it into a series of smallish boxes, which they then handed around to everyone in the hemisphere, along with a cheap cotton tote bag filled with attractive brochures. The thing we did was gentle and ill-defined, violent and urgent, vast in scope. In the little boxes its skin dried out and had to be painted over to maintain its former sheen. They brought out miniature pots of paint: eight colours that people were quickly trained how to mix and use. The colour held well, but not in heavy rain or in bright sunlight. Shelters were constructed to keep the weather out and people began to check the smallish boxes that contained the thing we once did on a regular basis to confirm the quality of the shine. This checking became more and more frequent, and after a time was followed by a flash: a sort of unavoidable outward-facing verification of the check by whoever happened in that moment to be passing by. This check-flash routine was supposed to be a nurturing gesture, was supposed to keep people attached to the thing we once did, was supposed to be something of an extension of ourselves; a gift or an invite to be known to one another. Instead, people began to recoil from the incessant flashing, the snippets of versions of other people’s now essentially uniform creative urge. The attractive brochures in the tote bags presented, for example, such entrepreneurial endeavours as: Ways to Make your Box Stand Out From the Crowd; How to Make the Most of a Fly-By Flash Session, What Paint Does for Your Health and Wellbeing, and How to Check Tall.
We looked around us for the thing we once did and, although it did seem as if it really was more popular than ever, we couldn’t shake the feeling that in all honesty it wasn’t anymore anywhere at all.