Sunday, March 1, 2009

What Our Eyes Are Trained To See

I read to Willa and say the same words over and over in multiple stories: cat, bird, red, black. I am training her eyes to see what she may someday recognize as part of her world. I am inhabiting her vision with the characters who will walk beside her. On future outings down future streets she will see cats in curtained windows, scarlet cardinals sounding out from the willow tree. She will know what they are and this will make her world larger because of it.

There was a time when I had no idea what ginestra was. I passed tables upon which sat their olfactory payload and was robbed by my own ignorance. Then I went to work for my mother-in-law at her flower shop and discovered it. Ginestra is the most shockingly gorgeous smelling flower on the planet. It is completely unassuming, slight even, but will fill your head with visions of a better world.

I have written before about living in these invisible cities. That since having Willa I see all around me now people I had not noticed before. I see so many Downs children, so many kids with cerebral palsy, so many different faces, different limbs, different abilities for walking, talking, eating. I see you because I see myself, my child and am a raw open wound of sensitive to how people see us.

To be invisible to the eyes around you is a cruel fate. A thing worse than anything. Because you live, you breathe, you see.

I tell Willa about cat, bird, red, black. I also tell her Costello, different, not all the same, beautiful, endless beautiful.

I stop at window boxes and smell the ginestra. I take every opportunity. Spring is coming and I will show this to my daughter and show her other flowers too. Because once you know such things you never go back.

My eyes had not been trained. But I learned. All of our eyes are hungry for new information, new sights, new words that will satisfy the person behind them. We forget that we are smarter than we think. We can improve.

It doesn’t make me a better person but it does make my life better, having my eyes see what they were ignorant of. To look at what is in front of me every day, adding color to my world, new visions of what already exists. It rounds out the picture. It fills the frame. Having a daughter with special needs and a medically complex constitution has done nothing but open the blinds for me.

I see you.

Do you see me?


anahita said...

I quoted you on my flickr gallery because i so like what you write and how you express yourself.
I just read this post.
And i love how we both express the same thing you when you say I see you ,do you see me? and my picture of my son being this time and for once the one who sees the one who takes pictures.

originally i posted this picture thinking of the first time (who was not the last time) a doctor took pictures of my son ,making him an object of medical study rather than a little human being.taking a picture without seeing him...

Brilliant post .
thank you.

anahita said...

here is the link to my picture

Chrystal said...

I'm right here with you, dear lady.

colin said...

Another fantastic post.

I know Helaina can see far deeper then I can. She notices the small details of each day, with a huge splash of empathy, Helaina opened our eyes so many years ago.

And then she goes and takes a good photograph to prove it.

love col

Little Terry said...

I see you and I am richer for it.
Thank you.

Ann said...

I've come to your beautiful blog by way of beautiful Chrystal (thanks Chrystal). I've been contemplating this new vision that I have as well. I love your writing and the way you express yourself. Is it okay if I link to your blog in my next post?- mom to 3 little birds...Nate(4) and twins Caleb and Maggie(10-months). We got Caleb's Ds diagnosis after he was born.

invisiblecities said...

Of course Ann. Thank you so much for reading! And thank you Chrystal, putting people together all over the web. xx

Chrystal said...

Just in case you didn't know, I gave you an award yesterday and linked to your blog. I hope that's ok.

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