Camera Obscured

I'll start this by saying that I am near-sighted.  The Aubrey brow has grasped a pair of glasses for forty years.  Without my glasses I am at a considerable disadvantage.  I can't even read expressions – so when I smile at someone it's similar to spitting in the wind:  you just don't know where it will land.

As a near-sighted person, I have made some spectacular miscalculations.  I have mistaken a pail for a cat.

But there are times when poor eyesight can be an asset.  I was thinking about this when I was in Catalina, last December.  To me, the Christmas lights that wrapped the island as if it were a gift weren't tiny bulbs fastened to strings of electric wire.  Instead, they were bright smears of color – vibrating in the mild afternoon, frozen into the sharp evening air. Lights from the illuminated Casino were reflected deep into the water, as if holiday festivities were being held in some submerged coral cave. 

At night, from the hills, Christmas trees – yellow-orange like Clementines – grew.  I couldn't see clearly the hotels or houses that kept them lit.  So I took it as a fact that they were living radiant things growing out of the fancy of an age-old holiday.

Yesterday, I was reminded once more to appreciate the pixilation of my vision; to enjoy a world melting into an impressionist's canvas.

I was walking to the market – and it was a fine neighborhood to walk through:  the houses were old and statuesque, glazed with tiles:  terra-cotta, dusty green, pale weeping blue.  I was enjoying the architecture and peering into the gardens to study the twisting foilage, the uprooted exoticism.

I looked across the street – it was just far enough for the details to lose their clarity and recede into softness and color.  The trees were in thick blossom.  And because I had no glasses to deny my reverie, the flowering became expansive, profuse:  rather than with tiny flowers, the branches seemed to be heavy with snow.  The bare vines that were plastered against the garden wall were delicate veins:  like veins reaching through stone, like a cartographer's painted tributaries – they interlocked like the initials from the Book of Kells.

Now, I don't like it when I trip down the final stair because I couldn't make out the separation between step and sidewalk; it's annoying to catch my shoe on a stone audacious enough to be invisible – I do hate stumbling through my daily travels.  But when my world suddenly dissolvles into light and color and shadow; when art suddenly appears – growing from the earth, floating in the sky, glittering like stars in the trees – I have to be grateful for the internal lens that obscures my surroundings and makes them gently withdraw into a painterly imagination.

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14 responses to “Camera Obscured

  1. My neighbor once saw me standing in my doorway at night, calling for my cats, and asked "what are you all dressed up for?" I was actually in a ratty nightgown at the time. Realized right then that I should probably be seeking "visually challenged" men, who have NO interest in lasik, as boyfriends!

  2. Way to take a defect and make it into something good. You write so eloquently. Puts me to shame with my stumbling to describe the beauty and wonder that I feel.

  3. Singular, spectacular vision. U haz it! πŸ™‚

  4. I love this phrase: "when I smile at someone it's similar to spitting in the wind: you just don't know where it will land." πŸ™‚

  5. I'm short sighted also and don't usually put my specs on until I get to work so particularly at the moment when it is so cold in the mornings, my blurry vision is enhanced by teary pools bouncing up and down every time I walk – it gives New Oxford Street an underwater feel, which is where it could do with being some of the time.

  6. As a fellow near-sighted lady, I sympathize with your situation, and I find it interesting that you chose to go without your glasses for a morning. I am rarely without my contacts, even, shamefully, at night when I'm sleeping. Still, you've written a fine account of what it must have been like to be Monet or van Gogh and that is to be applauded!

  7. Lovely!
    I too am nearsighted, but to the point that I wouldn't be able to see the pail distinctly even if I was standing in it.

  8. I've had people at work tell me they thought I was rude for not saying hello. I told them, um, "I didn't see you". I need glasses, but only wear them when I drive (otherwise, with corrective lenses for my near-sighted vision, I'd need glasses to see up close…so what's the point?). I've just kind-of gotten used to being semi-blind.

  9. LeendaDLL – I hope you didn't correct her mistake.
    SweetMisery/musicchick2 – thank you ladies!
    Shane – and because of that I wonder why I bother smiling at all. But a person must make an effort, I suppose.
    Jando – as I recall, there was a certain grubbiness; it must be nice to pretend that the street gets a wash every morning – that's more than I get.
    Renee – for someone with such insight, it's ironic that you should be near-sighted; I do wish you could have seen the trees that day.
    CompassRose – yet what if it really wasn't a pail. That would be one angry cat!
    woofie – I've had the exact problem: people wondering why I didn't see them, or acknowledge them. I have such trouble recognizing people, that if I'm waiting for a ride, I've come close to getting into the wrong car!

  10. oh i love that! i will use that pearl of wisdom the next time i'm about to be annoyed i can't see properly any more! πŸ™‚

  11. I know the poetry in living pictures of which you write well for my terrible near-sightedness has lent itself to fuzzy soft dreamlike images. If only the harsh world were as soft and kind as our eyes are perceiving.

  12. "Yesterday, I was reminded once more to appreciate the pixilation of my vision; to enjoy a world melting into an impressionist's canvas."

    What a beautiful line. One of many, I should say. I just met you and already I adore you.

  13. This is SO good. As always, a big smile on my face as I leave Aubrey's blob! πŸ˜‰

  14. Christmas trees like clementines..Beautiful, beautiful post.

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