Saturday, August 5, 2017

The World is Full of Magic Things - A Brigid Guest Post

The world is full of magic things,
 patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats

As I grew up, I took better notice of the world around me. That kept me alive more than once, when looking away might have meant my day ending in an explosion of surprised pain.  I might not be the youngest or the most fit in the group, but when need be, I can fire out of a dangerous place as if stuffed with powder, or fight back.  It's perception, it's nothing more than awareness of things around you, when to take cover and when to take flight. You learn through time, or by staring at your reflection in the weapon of your own destruction.  I see the little things, I'm trained to, yes, but I try and look past the obvious into the shadows.

It's not just situations, it's not just  people, it's words.  Politics will teach us, if anything, that words are just that, words, and without any sort of commitment to their substantiation, they mean nothing. Words not just spoken, but crafted and spun and spun yet again until they are as lightweight and meaningless as brittle thread.
Simple words, but words that bear power.  Remember the big fuss when Crayola had to get rid of the crayons we all colored with for generations, one called "Flesh" because it was a light shade, the color of Caucasian skin.  Like "Indian Red" it was soon sent to the bin of obsolete colors. Flesh, certainly, is every hue and shade, but what the word brings back is whatever you bring to it, that small exposed place on the inside of the wrist just below a cuff of blue shirt, the shadow there beneath the nape of the neck, where the hair is as soft as down underneath your lips as you slip down into colorless dark.

Indian Red.  For me that does not bring to mind a Native American, but the fire, the variated sky of the desert, the hues of life and death.  It is the color of nature's power and the deceit of man's ego, which not only rises but sometimes sets, on crimson holes in a ravaged shirt, that bloomed like sudden flowers in the darkness.  It is  the color of muddy, bloodied ground, from which the soul strives to leave before being pulled beneath it forever. It is the color of a sunrise in your lovers eyes, the light of hope and given promise.
Words, just words, that bring to them meaning which is yours alone.

A person is more than their words, and more than their form.  As a woman, not just a mother, I hate to see the images being given to our daughters, in word, in pictures, as to what is "beautiful".

Models in magazines aren't just thin and pretty but they have every single pore and "imperfection" photo-shopped away.  Wrinkles aren't a badge of a life well lived, but yet another thing to be blurred by a computer, and heaven forbid we be a healthy weight, as apparently if you're not a size zero you should just go buy your Muumuu and hide at home..

How did we reach such a place where what is considered beautiful or desirable is defined by a magazine?  You must be this thin, you must be this age, this shape; you must be this tall to ride the ride.  And I watch, we watch, as a nation of daughters starve themselves into an image that was never their perception of beauty, only their perception of belonging.  Men can be no different, for that pain of  unrealistic expectations knows no gender.
It's a sad world indeed, when we care more about how someone looks than what they can create. When one's worth is based upon what they can give us in our lacking, not what they are. But we are the population that, for the most part, would rather watch the talentless of reality TV than pick up a book written two hundred years ago that is still sold today.  Who among them, has ever experienced sitting in quiet with such a book, as words come swift and secret in the night, dressed in garments of longing and lust and greed and triumph, the likes of which no episode of reality TV would even scratch the surface of.

It's perception. It's how you look at the world and how much of the world out there, hidden away from prying eyes, you take the time to really look at.  To many - a life lived is little more than breathing, pleasures and darkness. To others it is a richly layered landscape of both risk and reward.

Two different people looking at the same thing will never see it the same way. Standing at a Western art show looking at works representing bygone eras,  I'm entranced by a one particular painting,  It is a simple one of an older woman on the prairie wearing clothing from a bygone era.  A young woman next to me gives it a cursory glance and says - "old woman in ugly dress, moving along".
I look at it and see so much more.  The woman in the painting is not twenty, nor is she beautiful by today's standards.  The artist has her in a shapeless dress, the dark colors of which could represent widowhood or mourning. but do not still the hunger of the flesh that's there in her eyes.  I do not notice her fashion choice or her form, only hinted at under the voluminous folds of faded fabric.  I simply see a face calm in what had to be an era of great suffering, I see hands that can weave cloth, cook, plow a field or bury a stillborn baby, standing there in the painting, much as the guide was in this auditorium, steadily watching and waiting for what life still remained.

The dilapidated farmhouse behind her looks empty, the land is covered in dust.  There are no children or others around her, just her form, standing straight and tall looking off to the horizon.  There is no history as to what the painting represents. but looking at it, I see her not as a woman approaching middle age, but the form of a butterfly as it emerges from the cocoon, carrying nothing of what it was into what it is,  emerging complete and intact as the wild rose that suddenly blooms from barren soil.
"Old woman in ugly dress".  I shudder to think how little the younger generation may really see, beyond what's on their smart phone or current "selfie".

But among my generation we can be just as nearsighted.  Some people would look at a small safe in which lie several new and historical firearms and simply see "gun nut!" (often muttered with the same tone as "shark!").  Others would see money that could have been given to others, as how selfish to actually wish to enjoy the fruits of my years of hard work.  Others will see what I do, tools of value and defense, of which I am the custodian of their careful use, just as I am the custodian of the world I carry around inside me.
I finish up preparing for my day, gathering up notes on what has been torn apart, and set them under a stone. It's a rough piece of rock, that when cut in half, would reveal the most incredible colors.  Look closely, look deeply.  There's a dark purple so rare, that for a commoner in ancient times to don it, would be on pain of death. There's startled jays of blue, soft pinks and whites that flower from within, the color of flesh, dripping from limbs like paint, forbidden fruits, their taste only a memory as you trace the emotion of those hues with the tip of a finger

To some, this would simply be a "rock", never turned over, not examined closely, never revealing that beauty that emerges when it has been cut.  To not see that, to not know that, will be their loss.

I turn the desk light off, as the morning sun vanquishes the darkness, wondering too, if these words will be just words, spun off into the dark.  But it's enough to know, that, which I've learned through the years, that seeing and hearing are both blind and deaf, but the well worn heart can see that which is absolute magic.
 - Brigid


Rev. Paul said...

As always, you see more than most, and bring us along for the joy of discovery.

Borepatch said...

I remember the fall of 1969, in Ravenna, OH. First time I ever saw a praying mantis. I grew up in Maine and don't think they live there. I still remember the wonder of that moment, caught up in the knowledge that the insect would soon be dead - even as a child, you know that winter follows summer like night the day.

Nice post, and thanks for bringing back that memory.

Anonymous said...

The power of observation. I think it is a skill that is not taught but one must seek out. Like photography, it is the little things that can make all the difference in a great picture. Beautiful story. Thanks. p.s. And you might want to get that piece of lint caught under the front sight of your shotgun! It made a cameo appearance in your picture!