As I was approaching the park with our dog, Angel, I saw what I thought was a bird perched atop a chainlink fence that bordered the horseshoe pits. I’m no avid birdwatcher, but I can tell a robin from a cardinal, and this seemed much larger than either of those. A crow perhaps? No, not entirely black enough. Another bird of prey?
If you’ve already examined the photo, you know where this is going, but I was much farther away when I first saw it, and as I approached I wondered at its steadfast pose, its intent focus, its unyielding stance where a lesser bird might have flown away. As Angel and I got closer to the park, the bird kept attracting my attention. What was it?
It was, as you’ve figured out, a coke bottle jammed into the chain link at the top of the fence. Nothing majestic. Nothing impressive. I felt a bit foolish.
I’ve been thinking that we see things in three ways. We see what we believe we are seeing. We see what we want to see. And we see what is.
In Oedipus, the King, the blind prophet, Teiresias, is referred to as the seer. He knows what seeing folks do not. And Oedipus, who refuses to see what is before him, is blind to the truth. In the end, Oedipus puts out his own eyes. Oh, sorry, spoiler alert (here is a very readable translation if you’re interested: https://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/sophocles/oedipustheking.htm).
I believed I was seeing a bird, Oedipus believed he was seeing traitors in his midst. We are fully engulfed in our preconceptions. One of the delights of children is when they see the truth that all of us do not. The Emperor has no clothes!
When we see what we want to see, it’s not so much a confusion as a delusion. Someone may make a derisive comment, and I can’t believe anyone can be so mean, so I choose to see a cutting remark as a joke, or convince myself that she didn’t mean it.
Then we see what is really there. It’s a coke bottle, Eric. Nothing more, nothing less.
My wife avidly watches Dr. Phil on TV and when I see it, I agonize over the way his guests treat one another. I don’t want to see family members abusing one another so atrociously (refer to “what we want to see” above). But Dr. Phil has a unique ability to plow through the words to get to the truth: seeing what is. I told my wife that I would happily watch the last 10-15 minutes of each show, but getting there is so uncomfortable for me (learn more at www.drphil.com).
I think I will do my best to focus more on what is. Oh, I love my daydreams, my imagination, my creativity, and all, but as a seeing exercise.
After all, I am That Guy Who Walks.