(Written for the Blog your Block: Daily Post Challenge)
As I went through the challenge description, the words that stood out to me were “How can you see the familiar landscape of your own block with “explorer eyes”?”
For you see, I don’t see the way many people see!
I can’t quite remember when it all began, but I started to lose my eyesight from a very young age.
I have had specialists and doctors examine my eyes many times over, however, they are still dumbfounded as to why my eyes are in their current state.
I apparently have the eye health and ‘set-up’ of someone who should have 20/20 vision, yet, my lack of vision has left me partially blinded, and unable to wear glasses for too long (any more than ten minutes) as it begins to cause me migraines. For this reason, my evenings have been riddled with these painful and unwanted guests due to academia and prolonged use of my spectacles – you need to be able to see the book you read!
They say that when one of your senses drops, that the others become more acute. In my case, when one of my senses began to dissolve, I accumulated some new ones – a keen sense of awareness, but also something which reached out further than our physical capabilities, and almost into the pseudo-realm between spirituality and a disembodied far-seeing.
I do not resent my lack of clear vision, as I understand that there are possibly many things that God did not wish for me to witness that could have been disadvantageous for me, yet I also found my appreciation for every smudge that I see growing day by day.
I may not be able to see your facial features when you stand one meter in front of me, but I can feel their every curve and line.
I may not be able to see the recognizable characteristics of the person walking towards me from the bus stop, but I know that it is my neighbour because of her unique ‘smudge’.
Every person, everything, has its own energy – an aura, if you will – and this translates to me as a beautiful, but individual, smudge.
Many years ago, my older sister and I stood outside at the foot of our house, in the midst of the eccentric but homely neighbourhood that we had come to know, and admired the fresh night air.
She looked up and gasped with joy “Wow! Look at all those stars!” Suddenly, her words came to a halt and she covered her mouth with her hand.
For that magical moment in time, she had forgotten that her little sister could not see the beautiful celestial painting above her.
“You’re right, it really is phenomenal!” I smiled as I pointed my face up at that twinkling sky, and closed my eyes as I took in the very essence of the beauty before me.
I could not see the stars, but I could feel their warmth.
I could not see the crescent moon, but I could feel it smiling down at me.
I could not see the constellations, but I could feel the story behind their mythological names.
(I later went on to pursue my degree in astrophysics because, since I could not see the stars, then maybe I could reach out to them in other ways.)
Skipping forward a few years, I found myself walking back home after a tiring but satisfactory session of sword training, and turned the corner onto my street.
The area I stay in is known to be a bit of a hybrid land. One side resembles the busy, cluttered streets of an Indian bazaar, housing a multitude of cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, and is made up of lower priced residential apartments. The other is home to some of Scotland’s most affluent families and well-maintained parks.
To our luck, my family stay slap-bang in the middle of both of these areas, but were surrounded by more of the former.
I stopped at the corner, next to a lamp post, and took in all of the sounds around me. From the unloading of food into the grocery stores, to the rushing of car wheels and the sounds of kids playing – I wondered in that moment what my home ‘really’ looked like.
Pulling out my glasses, I slid them on for a brief few seconds, and was taken aback by what I saw.
The very cracks in the paint of the lamp post twisted and turned like vines growing up its length, leaving behind a trail of evidence.
The strong reddish hue of the brickwork on the buildings, and their grainy texture, reminded me of what I’d imagined the surface of Mars to resemble.
I looked up to see people – actual people – walking around, and the detailing of their clothing, their hair and expressions had me in awe.
I couldn’t help but watch the cars go by, the very shape and form they took as they blurred passed should have been ‘expected’ by a physicist, but instead, my wild imagination could see these other worldly beasts zooming passed on their daily routes.
From the cracks in the pavement, the shape of my house door and the well placed tiling on the roof – to the lines painted on the road and the stones that lined the garden paths; I had never imagined my so called run-down, impoverished neighbourhood to be so…. beautiful.
That moment took only a few seconds, and yet till this day I still remember clearly everything I saw.
Could it be that I had romanticized what I had witnessed with my first-time seeing ‘explorer eyes’, and that my optimism had painted an allure over a dog-eared canvas?
Or maybe I had hoped so badly to see my home in this light, that it had all been in my head?
Whatever it was, all I can say with surety is that my home, my neighbourhood, and indeed this planet, is a smorgasbord of beauty, blessings and bountiful treasures all waiting to be discovered with our ‘explorer eyes’.
For you see, although I may not be able to see what you see or they see, I still hope to see all the good there is to see in this oh-so-seeable world…. You see?