Mind Matters: Strange Things

I watched a Netflix series called Stranger Things.

It features a mysterious underground monster, nefarious government officials, and appealing teens.

I had my own strange experience in a park in an Armidale (NSW) park just a few weeks ago.

I went to the park after work to hit a ball against a tennis practice wall.

I saw and smelled spray-paint fumes on the far side of the wall.

I looked there and saw a guy spray-painting the wall in an artistic way.

I said hello.

His spray-painting did not strike me as strange because I had heard that the local shire allowed some young individuals to do that.

On the near side I saw three guys on the left side of the wall.

I ignored them and started hitting the ball against the near-side wall.

Then I heard music coming from the direction of the three guys.

I looked over at them and noticed that one was dressed in a long black robe, wore silky black gloves, and had a silky black hood that covered all of his head except his face.

I stopped hitting the ball.

The man in black looked to be about 40 years old.

He danced, about as well as I do, and he made big facial movements, bigger than I have ever made.

He may have been lip-syncing.

One of the other guys video-recorded the performance.

The third fellow eventually put up a big green screen on the wall behind the man in black, blocking the colourful graffiti on the near side of the wall.

I tried not to gawk as I practised swinging my racquet without hitting the ball.

I had a feeling that the ping-ping of my hitting a ball would not add much of value to the recording.

It occurred to me that a lot of artistic expression was happening at the same time involving the tennis wall.

What a town!

What a species we humans are!

If I were a nosier or more outgoing person, I would have interrupted the trio and asked what they were doing.

Instead, I took my ball and racquet and left behind a mystery.

Did I witness a religious ritual?

A TAFE project?

Or something stranger?

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, University of New England.