As I was walking past the neighbor’s house the other day, on my way to the park for my almost-daily workouts, I remarked to her, as she sat on her porch smoking a cigarette, that it’s been a great summer (weather-wise). The day was awash in blue-sky sunlight and the warmth was perfectly temperate and dry.
‘Are you crazy!?’, she said, ‘It’s been a terrible summer! Too much rain, it’s been humid….just terrible!’
‘Really?? I don’t think so. We’ve had beautiful weather, only a few days have been humid, and the rain has been pretty regular but it’s great for the garden and the trees.’
‘Yeah, you’re right, the rain is good for the garden. But still, it’s been terrible!’
With that I just smiled and kept walking to the field with echoes of our exchange accompanying me.
People are funny, myself included. The way we see things; the way we shape our attitudes, hopes, fears, prejudices; the ways in which we share with others as we say what’s on our minds and hearts. More often than not we see, or choose or are conditioned to see, only with the eyes we inherit at ground-level. We see with the eyes of a worm and we say the sky is brown; we see with the eyes of a chicken and say we can’t fly; but when we see with the eyes of falcon, or my favorite, a hummingbird, we fly into blue skies.
Maybe that’s why glasses were invented – not so much to see more clearly but to filter what and how we see (and thus see what we’ve been missing). That could be the same reason why we dance, meditate, have babies, fall in love, eat our favorite foods on scattered occasions – it helps us ‘see’ not so much with our eyes but through our experiences that filter what we see and how we see it. The world looks a lot different when I eat heaping portions of nutritious, organic salad everyday than it does if I ate a half-gallon of butter pecan ice cream.
Today, for instance, is a rainy, windy New England summer day. And it’s my birthday. The rain today reminded me of my childhood, because it seemed that it always rained on my birthday. I remember taking it personally, as if I were marked, or mocked, somehow to have my birthday washed out by gray skies raining down god’s indifference, or disapproval. I felt singled out for being…..me. I could see only through the filter of my melancholy and the world, it seemed, did not like me.
I still experience, in nano-moments, that same dejected child in me. He cries for a sense of belonging, for a sense that somehow his life is a valued part of the whole. But imagination serves me well now in adulthood as it always did in childhood. It gives me access to the invisible, but not indifferent, world of spirits and beings who do notice and do care. Imagination gives me a world of my own, a world of delights and devices that I am free to share with others for our mutual benefit and enjoyment. Imagination allows me to see the sky as blue when it’s covered in gray; it gives me the wings to climb and punch through the layers of gray into the expanse of liberating vision.
Now, when it rains, I imagine I am a tree and I smile….because if the trees don’t complain, neither will I.