I’ve been an observer all my life. Often it feels like there’s a thin veil that separates me from the real world. Through this veil though, I can see more clearly than those who are standing on the other side. It has been the single best thing about being me, and the single worst. Its made me feel like an outsider, and yet, on a broader scale, it’s allowed me to feel more in touch with the world; to see beyond the illusion of day to day life. A true double-edged sword.
Today while walking back from the market, my sack filled with the essentials: salsa, craft beer and Panda Puff cereal, I noticed the vibrancy of the grass, I breathed deep the smell of green. I watched a Monarch butterfly flit across my path. I noticed the root that poked itself precariously above the sandy ground, and wondered to which tree it belonged. And upon entering my home I smelled the fresh cucumbers resting on the counter, and was instantly transported to when I was young, and our home smelled of cucumbers and my mom’s fried chicken. No one knew how to fill a house with the smell of good food better than my mother.
My life has been spent in observation. It’s made me a better writer; noticing the nuances help to paint a better picture. The way Radio Shack tech smelled. The peculiar cool chill that used to fill the air on a July 4th night in northern Michigan while waiting for fireworks to light the sky. The way a friends’ face lights up when they see you arrive. The way people often move like ants in a busy downtown. The comforting sound of an airplane flying in the distance.
I also have, and do, observe things that make my heart ache. We all have. Some feel it deeper. But, we all feel it. My youth was filled with things I didn’t want to observe. Feelings I didn’t want to feel. Many of those things have taken decades to unwind. But also too, they’ve helped me to develop a part of myself, an emotional muscle that has allowed me to go deeper – even during the worst of it. When I think back to an alcoholic father, I could see solely what rested on the surface. Please know, the surface provided more than enough to absorb. But, with time, I’ve come to see the man behind those eyes. The one that only wanted peace. I loved that man. He was a good human.
My son is a cancer survivor. There were moments, the residual of which, I still feel to this day like the light stickiness of humidity on a hot day. But also too, I remember his first words after brain surgery. I remember how the high arch of his eyebrow when listening intently remained even when he had to practice walking again. I remember too, how the birds chirped outside the hospital even when I didn’t know if he would live.
Life is tricky. It’s filled with everything, always. The true dichotomy of human existence. The good, the bad and everything in between. I used to rail against God for having ushered onto my existence so much bad. When your world crumbles, it’s hard not to. And yet, once the dust settled, the Universe spoke – as it always does – and it was shown to me that there was something else for me to see. I can’t say I always liked what I had to see. I didn’t always understand what I had to see. But I knew enough to allow in a different interpretation. And within that, I found peace.
On that note dear reader, I want to say, that it is my deepest hope and intent, that you find peace with whatever it is that you see. And if you don’t, if you can’t, give it time. Look away for awhile. Notice the butterfly. Notice the green. Sometimes Life speaks to us only when we stop looking at what’s in front of us.