Sometimes I can see the world lit up.
Sometimes I can name pencils, and colors, like “handwritten notes” or “Saturday morning” or “ocean brontide” or “laughing because you know.” Sometimes I can laugh at how small I am, at the stripes of color in rock that span and double until I am in a mere thunderclap. Languages, new words I cannot pronounce, lift my head and sharpen my eyes as I try to taste the sound.
Sometimes words are so easy.
The stars make me wish to dream, and falling asleep to a storm spins the visions of obscure clarity. Those are my two sets of vision.
But dreaming takes its toll. I wish I could paint with a pencil, paint the thick grime and salt brushed across a sea under the tossed sky of grey; and the wishing is exhausting. Wildness and bicycles don’t take as kindly to graphite, but color and thickness are difficult for my fingers. People are beyond even words, layers and layers, mountains and valleys.
Empathy is something ingrained too deeply, perhaps, because I get tired. Seeing becomes that state of existence when you have to wake up at 3AM, and the stars are pretty, but cold or warm you’re still not quite awake, not asleep. It’s like living in a flat, colorful photograph developed by the weariness of other people around you with words that have been tumbled in the washer fifteen times in a row.
Tiredness is dim. I want to splash light on people.
if you’ll step inside this great glass elevator
it’ll take us up above these city lights…
Andrew Peterson – Many Roads
After all, bicycles were meant to be ridden. Mountains are meant to be scaled. People mean something. I can see the potential, shimmering beyond the veil, and that alone is a cause for weeping, because it is not yet realized. And yet, it is a terrible beauty: such are rare glimpses fashioned out of pain, whipping around like the earth turns about the sun.
I want to help people see, blind as I am.
Look again, always look again. Breathe, one piece at a time. Somehow there is always hope: there are always paragraphs, with lines to breathe; there are always bicycle rides to be taken. Flip back through the postcards. Look beyond to the One who paints.
What if I can’t see, though?
Some days, when I can’t see the hot air balloons floating above my city, I don’t get it. For someone to talk to me is a strange wonder: out of all the birds twittering on the telephone lines and in the trees, they come to one in an azalea bush staring at the sky. I don’t mind it, but I don’t see very clearly. I feel the disconnect, and this curse no longer feels like a hurricane.
There is no thunder in weariness. Just a gap. It feels like being a sweater.
Two blind people stand a better chance at seeing, because they are formed out of different breaths, different tears and laughter and pages of books. And it’s easier when so much light falls on everything, and the roar spates, and I try to shout that I have found something. I try, I try, but I usually manage to forget the sunburn and accidentally put my hand on the wrong shoulder, and then I curse my clumsy wings as the darkness shutters around them again.
I get tired of chasing sunsets.
I never loved my glasses. It wasn’t the taunts of other people, it wasn’t the fact that they became smudged until I could barely see. It was some root of shyness, a squirming sensation that they didn’t fit, that they blocked me from the world. I never felt at home in them, not when I could peer blurrily around the rims. The world with sharp, clear lines felt more real, but never quite home; and the blurriness and the plentiful remarks that it must be so very hard to see isolated the other realm from me.
I could tell more apart than most would guess. And yet my inability to see haunts me. It did at the Grand Canyon. I sat and cried because I couldn’t see every facet of light, I couldn’t hold in all the colors or couldn’t chase them with a pen, and I couldn’t clamber around on its arms. What I saw was too bright, too full; it hurt like being tossed again in a torrent of water, drowning.
It’s like melting ice cream.
It is easier to see the light when you do not carry it, when you flock to light in others. Mirrors can be terrible or true things. I wish I could take pictures with my eyes, and in some ways I can. I can replay someone’s laugh at the joke I made to distract or their pain as they winced tightly in empathy, or how the ground looked from a strange height. But movies tend to fade, and I cannot take pictures with my other set of eyes, or have not learned how. Simply chasing the light bouncing around is not enough.
Hope doesn’t refract with accuracy when thrown: you have to fill up with the light before people see it. It becomes a part of you, but it is not your own.
It is never quite your own.
And to beg the light from everyone else is not enough, and yet you cannot flare always. You cannot live full-gale, you cannot absorb every pain. I curse the fact even as I forget it and I try and I cry silently into the laundry because I’m not enough to fix it.
Such are sweaters in tired weather.
I read a story about bioluminescent phytoplankton, far from the depths and crashing in the sea. The waves were the hue of smoky blue topaz, with star-shards lighting the facets of the tiny edge as it tumbled, and the night was turned to eerie. The moon was a silver smudge in the clouds, and the stars swam.
Some of the tiny mites were beyond the reach of the waning tide, dimly lighting the rough of the dark sand, fighting for life amongst the texture of seaweed and the blasts of air. The story, with just two pictures, rewound and replayed a film in my mind of a beach lit only by the moon, and an invisible ocean under smoked cotton glass shredded across the sky.
There is a kind of holy terror in only hearing power, not seeing it. And yet, tomorrow the light will come into view, and the white glow on familiar sand will be gone, blinded by the glare of the light on a restless motion, rippling and diving. In the night, the sea is unseen, unfelt, and yet it is still there. And the sun is not.
It’s worth it to chase the sunset. There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind, even as the road is marked with yellow lines. There’s something there, always.
But I also know how rust feels on your bones. I feel it often. You and I, maybe, are simply too thin to see the light always. And the sound of the ocean is so very loud, slipping into even your wakeful sleep. It’s a dangerous sea to drown in, especially when shredded clouds hunt the stars.
Weariness, they called that sea. I’d jump in the ocean-depths after you, if it would help. Every time. I’d drink up your weariness if it poisoned my lungs, take it for you… I’d lose my vision if it meant you could see, if it helped for just a moment.
I want to splash light everywhere, but maybe the most I can do for that is sit by you. Mockingbirds be not fierce and brave, though they imitate those songs while they blend in. I cannot take it, only be. I can’t fight off every brittle spell from a distance, only hurt with you. And maybe in the end that’s okay, because the sun rises and is none of my doing, and that’s why so much light falls on everything anyway.
I don’t see it either, lately. But piers are good to sit on and hope, like weary ones hoping for the sails of salt and familiar voices.