I saw this large white thing on the sealoch, pushing the water into a triangle with the rocky shore as the third median. I peered for a bit through the paint-spattered windows as the cover of the night slid back to reveal a new morning. I always do this ‘peering’ thing first, actually not just first, but second and sometimes third, in a vain attempt to kid on that, overnight, my eyeballs have grown young again. Ah, halcyon days….. when I could see so much more, often too much, and sometimes that which would have been better not seen at all, and certainly not by me!
Anyway, I waffle away from the large white thing.
Before it disappears completely, travelling at a fast lick through the frothy tide line, I grab the hefty set of Zeiss binoculars, or ‘bins’ as I gather they are fondly known, and nearly fall into my coffee with the weight of the things. I don’t believe any bird watcher ever held these up to their eyes for long. I would need to consider the employment of a personal trainer for at least a year just to manage a period of time longer than 35 seconds. However, being a woman, I can achieve a great deal in 35 seconds, so I stick them onto my face and focus quickly, to the usual no avail, because why? Because, as well as giving me instant arm ache and the beginnings of a shake in my ulna, well, both ulnas to be honest, the flaming glass bit mists up as my hot eyeball challenges the cold lens. Vital seconds pass, as does the large white thing, into the trees that overhang the near shore. Hmmm.
I call it a Snow Goose. It was too big for an eider duck and too small for a swan or a flamingo. Snow Goose it is. There! I feel dead chuffed and highly priveleged and can live this fantasy for days. I saw a Snow Goose today! That’s what I say in the shop to a resounding chorus of envying OOhs and Aahs.
It makes me think. Of how we can see things that aren’t there, and not see things that are there. How an un-misted glass lens can show us something we think we can explain, and how a misted one can talk complete pants to our human brains. When we ‘see’ something through our eyeballs, we bring a process into being. First, we see, then we fix this vision into a place, and then, without any conscious decision, we pad it out with all manner of daftness, imaginings, past baggage, phobias, indoctrinated beliefs and hopes. When I see a beggar on any street, I see someone calling for help, and I will always give something. I follow my own heart in this matter. When another sees the same sad sight, they may feel angry, begin to judge, or see laziness, bad choices, weakness – in other words, they might look down on the beggar as less than human. It’s called ‘perception’ and it is in every one of us, however much inner work we might embark on to learn humility and compassion. We can’t help it. It is part of who we all are.
When I decide, which I sadly do, now and again, that someone else is heading in the wrong direction, I say so. And then I learn a new fact or two about them, and regret, deeply, my hasty judgement. I work on, to soften my perceptions, or, rather, to shut them up, but they can rise unbidden, un-called for, and always at times when I am not mindfully in control of that sneaky little set of wires that run from my brain to my mouth.
One area of perception, that never fails to cause a stooshie, is that of Boundaries. Whether it is between black and white, the Ukraine and England, England and Scotland, or the African States, there is this thing about boundaries that could curdle milk in a nanosecond, one that everyone has an opinion on, based on personal perception. Oftentimes, I hear folk talking heatedly on a ‘boundary’ subject. It can wire up a whole shopping queue once it gains momentum, but what saddens me is that I so often hear not what any individual really thinks, but what someone else has said on tv or written in a newspaper. When you actually consider the other human beings involved in these situations, with only theories posturing as reality, how can anyone opinionate?
My world may be laughably fantasmic to some, even to many, but if we all (and I believe we all do) want a life of peace and neighbourly-ness, then our arms must be open, our hearts too and, one day, our countries. Voltaire said, ‘It is sad that, if we are to be a patriot, we first have to make an enemy of the rest of mankind.’
I think a different way to you, and you, to me. I feel differently about the whys and the hows and the whens of things, but this can either be a glorious Snow Goose pushing through the saltwater of a new tide on a new morning – or, it can be ignored as something I couldn’t quite see, through my glass, and darkly.