January 04, 2011

The Selective Eye

Piedmont Street, late afternoon.

Even when we live in the nondis-criminatory mind, still the eye sees what it sees and the artist in us selects images all day long.  Actually, artist or not, we all do it.  We are especially aware of it if we are taking a photograph, painting a picture, writing a poem, or any art that must select in order to speak.  We select faces, things, bits of trees, bushes, flowers, shadows, signs, movements.  This also happens without our even knowing we are doing it. 

Some images resonate to tell us about ourselves, stick within for awhile, then translate into expression.  We must pay attention at every moment because something is always speaking to us.  And these are the stories we bring home to supper to reflect on if we are alone, or to tell others if we are in company.

So I was down on Piedmont Street, the village area two blocks away.  The sidewalk was crowded with people and the burnt umber face of an old man sitting outside a used furniture shop caught my eye.  He was rubbing the reed of his clarinet while watching people go by, but no one was noticing him.  Then our eyes met, but one of his eyes pointed to the side and I couldn’t tell if our eyes had really met or whether the good eye had looked the other way.  I wondered if he inhabited a double world, if he could see both ways.  Or, did he see like a man-bird who knows his language is music, and knows he can fly off when the street gets rough. 

As I went past, he put the clarient to his mouth and began to play, not to show off, not as performance, but because it was the next thing he quite naturally was about to do.  This happened several days ago yet the image of him is tucked into a soft place in me, perhaps because he was so utterly authentic in his presence, and for a split second we really did meet.