What do you see when you look at a wall?

A regular wall, in your house.

I see paint, and texture. And sheen. Typically paint stores sell you on four different gradations of sheen, but really you could probably mix up an infinitely variable continuum of sheen if you had the correct proportions of paint. The more the paint produces a specular reflection, the higher the sheen. It has to do with how the surface of the material reflects or scatters the photons of light striking it. Or something like that.

The texture is typically a knockdown texture, caused by spraying on drywall mud-like substance at a particular volume, pressure, and distance likely by using a gravity-fed hopper-style device that contains the material, connected to a tube of some kind coming from what is essentially a reverse vacuum fed by an AC motor used to push the air/mud mixture through the appropriate size and shape nozzle. Then the texture is flattened somewhat using a big flat wiping device to give it an even height. However, walls lately are going with the flat, or untextured, look, a look I particularly like. It also means less surface area so you can cover more wall square footage with less paint. It is more difficult, though. So you’d probably want to use a duller paint on flatter walls to hide the imperfections, though this compromises your ability to keep it clean long-term, which could result in higher maintenance costs over the long run as you may have to repaint it more frequently, but I digress….

Beneath the texture is drywall, probably composed of gypsum sandwiched between two layers of what is essentially thick paper to hold it together and give it some stiffness. There aren’t that many variations of drywall thickness available, so yours is probably some standard depth. Also, they come in standard sheet sizes (4’ x 8’). Then the nails or screws hold the drywall onto the wall studs, which are vertical 2x4s spaced 16 inches apart.

But what are the studs made of? Frequently wood but occasionally metal (although more likely metal in commercial buildings). And where do these materials come from? What was the carbon cost of their manufacture, transport and assembly? What would be the carbon cost of their destruction or demolition or burning down in a fire?

Anyway, the spaces between the studs on an inside wall will hide plumbing, electrical power wire, telephone wire, television/data cable, Ethernet cable, etc. It would be nice if they held conduit in residential settings but I digress. Typically no insulation on inside walls. The twists and gauge of the wire can determine its susceptibility to noise, but it’s still important to keep data wire away from power wire, especially for parallel runs. Better to cross them at 90°, if you have to.

Anyway, that’s what I see when I look at a wall.

What do you see?

What do you see when you look at a light bulb? Or a washing machine? Or a web page? Do you know how the Internet gets to your computer?

What do you think about when you turn on a faucet to get hot water? Cold water? What’s the difference?

Do you consider how your actions affect the world around you? Other people? The future of humanity? What if everyone did things the way you do?

What does it mean to you to eat a hamburger? Drive a car? What do you know about how they got to you?

Do other people see the same things you see when they look at the same things you do or think about the same things you think about?

It must be nice if they do.

How would it affect your behavior if you played chess with spacetime every time you made a choice?

How would it affect your demeanor?

Your happiness?

Now, what if you had little-to-no control over that?