So far, I’ve only been asked that first question when I wear this shirt, but the others are valid as well. I picked out this fine Gildan tee at a thrift store the other day. It immediately caught my eye, hanging limply in the black tee section, a section I normally don’t look at. I had a moment of vision in the store — mental expansion, if you will — that I’m still trying to unpack. It was a genesis moment.
What is a genesis moment? It is a moment of imaginative explosion. It is a moment where information, out of context, generates a wave of possibility and understanding that turns one’s mind in different directions at the same time. All the critical information is there, but it hovers between meanings; indeed, the information resists even its original intention. Casey is both male and female at once; returning from overseas combat and leaving the hospital after a long coma; greeted by a balloon-carrying crowd or one sarcastic sibling.
When I see the text WELCOME HOME CASEY, my mind races with activity. I imagine a mid-50s mother with reading glasses on a ubiquitous custom t-shirt website, methodically assembling the text. She hovers over shirt colors, deciding between blue and black. Then my imagination twitches. I imagine the Casey figure, a tall stony-faced man in combat dress. He’s striding through an airport with two large duffle bags. My imagination twitches again. Casey is now a girl, a junior in college, and she’s being thrown a surprise party after studying two semesters in France. A small group of friends is hiding in her apartment, laughing to the themselves about the absurdly austere shirt they are all wearing.
Genesis moments are more relational occurrence than mere serendipity. This is, to me, a human moment where lives are briefly woven together. It is creation in a finer sense, where the truth is rearranged and made more ornate as different people perceive it.
These moments have no relation to conceptual models like quantum physics or moral relativism. If you go that far, you miss the pungency of the event. I’m making this phrase up, of course, but there’s something quietly significant in all of this:
Genesis moments smell of eternity. This is the elusive substance of great art, the coming-together of what is real. As you make sense of the moment, the world around rings clearer.
You find genesis moments in abstract paintings, in accidental photographs, on an obscure website, in the eyes of a pet, in the way trash gathers in an alley, on a badly designed billboard, and in a meticulous portrait: people send them out all the time without knowing.
We build out our own lives, we make sense of things to ourselves, and in a happy moment like this one we can understand a deep sense of connection. I can wear my new shirt, it will catch a stray glance, and a new moment will be born.