A world of contrasts lies between the powerful opposites among all the colors we can see. In the space between those beautiful extremes, between the flame of orange and the deep sea of indigo, between scarlet and emerald, is where we can begin to take the measure of our understanding of the visible world. And in the knowing, we can rejoice in the wideness of the visible world that resides between late-night violet and the dazzling yellow of daffodil petals newly sprung, between scarlet and emerald.
For most of my life I’ve had outstanding vision. I had a little interlude in grade school and junior high school when I wore fairly weak glasses to correct my slight farsightedness, but it was indeed correctable, and after about three years I was once again glasses-free, and this state of uncorrected bliss lasted until I was a whole half-century old. During my external-lens-less heyday I could see all sorts of things with great crispness and clarity and in glorious detail. Unfortunately for you, this did not extend to my seeing the truth more clearly than others could or to my understanding anything more clearly than anyone else did.Having sharp eyes doesn’t, it turns out, equal having a sharp intellect. Dang.
It’s as if the universe didn’t care whether I’m a blithering idiot, no matter how excellent my eyesight. Come to think of it, a convenient combination in a person wishing to be an artist and writer and having no particular need or wish to do so in a reality-based universe. So here I am, all of those years post-first-spectacles, once again enhanced in my ability to see things by artificial means, and yet no smarter or better able to clarify the meaning of existence or even an itty bitty little part of it than I was with no glasses near my peepers. Go figure.My appreciation and admiration for genuine intelligence may have increased over the years, to be sure, but the need for such things seems, if anything, to decline steadily and in perhaps directly proportionate amounts. What this says about me I will leave to your imaginations. At the same time, I needn’t leave everything to your imaginations, because as my goofy insight into things utterly fictional remains entirely intact no matter what happens to my eyebulbs, I can assure you that I will continue to produce all sorts of whimsical, bizarre and deeply educational items for your perusal here at my blog. It’s what I do.
Stars, sun, comets, moon and planets; rain and lightning, clouds and mist;
Birds and butterflies and rainbows; dragonflies by morning kissed:
What a sparkling declaration of the minutes passing by,
What a joy, this constellation of sweet treasures in the sky!
Though I hunger in the silence of shut-in days, sleeping, blind,
I keep constantly the radiance of these jewels in my mind,
Hoping, dreaming, moving, soaring–real, or the internal, eye
Loves the beauties so alluring of sweet treasures in the sky!
Those things that I can see even with my eyes quite tightly closed are objects of reverence and awe. No matter how much I admire the visible world for its quirks and art and prettiness, I cannot always navigate it with precision. I often can’t recognize faces out of their expected contexts. I miss obvious details that people around me have noted with nonchalance. I fail to see the marvel in many a beautiful everyday thing.So when the attractions of anything are so intense that they live, beyond existing in the visible world, within the depths of my mind’s eye, I accord them special significance. They become icons of a sort, or waking dreams. I can carry with me those images that hold their places in my soul with something stronger than mere physical presence can ever begin to attain.
That which is seen by the untrained eye of the casual observer is an older man, an elderly man, perhaps a shell of his former self. Not someone with a lot of use and life adventure left in him. Handsome, perhaps, in his latter years, with this silver hair and these pale clear eyes, with his faintly stooping posture before a window where no single thing that’s new is seen; elegant in his quiet way, and maybe wise. But not more.
What cannot be seen is the forty-two years he spent working for the postal service, learning the business from the bottom up and eventually teaching not just the next generation that would follow him but the next after that as well. There is no way to know at merely a glance that he tended a beautiful garden on Sunday afternoons where he grew too many vegetables for his own table so he shared the rest around the neighborhood. Invisible, too, is the love he keeps alive for his long-dead wife of thirty years, except for the small bouquet of flowers he picks from that garden of his and gives to their son and his wife every Monday because they were her favorite blooms. Yes, the flowers and the kids.
In the plain little vase where those flowers live for the week, there is room for all that can’t be seen in one quick look at the profile of a man who sits and meditates beside a window. Only by taking the time to appreciate the fulness of that humble bunch of flowers and all that they have to tell can anyone really know what to see when looking toward that window’s light. It takes a certain clarity to see what’s right in front of you.