I met someone when I was eight years old. He was the first blind person I had ever encountered.
I'd seen him at church every Sunday.
I knew instinctively that he was blind because he had a stick that he tapped before him and because everyone led him around by the arm. It intrigued me, as it would intrigue any young child, and I'd often wanted to ask him what it was like. A bit macabre, I suppose, but it was in the honest vein of innocent youth.
I got my chance one warm, spring Sunday. He happened to be standing near the front steps of Enon Baptist Church in Hollins, Va. That was where I went as a child. Your Gammy ferried my Sister and I there every weekend... religiously. :)
It took a little time, but eventually I worked up the courage to go over and say "Hi".
"Michael, isn't it?" He replied to my "Hi".
"How'd you know?" I asked.
"I thought I saw you running around." He smiled.
"But you're blind" I blurted out rather mindlessly and, looking back, rather rudely.
"That's true" He replied, "But it's never stopped me from seeing what I see."
He had a wide grin. I remember that.
"What's it like not being able to see?" I asked, with the purest of intentions.
"I can see everything!" He chuckled.
"How?" I asked.
"Look at the road. Down there, at the end of the parking lot. Look at that road and tell me what you see." He smirked.
I looked down at the road, which was nothing more than a road, and replied "Uh, it's a road".
"Alright" He chuckled, "And what else do you see?".
"Just a road." I replied, rather honestly.
"Are there no cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles?" He quizzed, around the time I heard the motorcycle slipping past.
"Well, yea." I answered.
"Do you see anything else?" He asked.
"Not really" I replied.
He was rather intriguing to an eight year old boy, and frankly, a bit annoying in his persistence.
"There aren't many clouds today." He said. "Do you know how I know?"
"How?" I asked. Knowing full well that he was right.
"Because the sun is warm on my forehead and I'd imagine it sits high in the sky. That tells me two things. One: There are shadows stretching across that road that you did not See. And Two: I'd imagine the rain earlier this morning is throwing reflections right back at you, if you can find the puddles." He charmed.
He was right. When I looked at the road again, I didn't only see a road. I saw the asphalt. I saw the yellow lines snaking down its center. I saw the glimmer of sunlight bouncing off of the shallow puddles of water. I saw the long shadows of the scattered trees stretching with all their might across it. I saw the vehicles glancing by and the colors each held. I saw the people in those vehicles, their faces briefly bright, then blurred.
"Wow" I recall whispering.
"And you thought I was the one who was blind!" He chirped.
I've never forgotten him. I never will. His name is Henry Boitnott. Guess what he does for a living?
One day, not far off, you're going to ask me that question. You're going to ask me that question that I have feared since September 5th, 2009.
You're going to ask me why I Went.
One day you'll love someone so much that you can't breath. It'll probably happen often. It'll probably happen so often that eventually you'll think yourself a fool. And you will be one. But there isn't anything wrong with that.
Your Father has always been far too emotional. He's always had too much of that drug dumped into his veins. He's always wrapped himself around the pulse that passion pushes through. It's one of his many, many, faults. He clings when he should release, he recalls when he should forget, he hopes when he should not.
I would love to consider it a character flaw but I don't actually think it is. I think it's an attribute that hasn't found its way to the surface just yet. Or maybe I personify it with that very sentiment.
I'll stand guilty of that. It feels wrong not to.
I Went because I wouldn't have been a very good Dad if I'd stayed.
If I believed in a soul, I would have sold mine so very long ago. I'd have sold it for the life of a house fly. One that buzzes around your room. One who lights on your wall and watches you live.
I became brittle. I'm stronger now.
I have more good days than I do bad. That's the motion of the child learning to walk again. That's the flow of your Father's river.
Beautiful People who come into my life, I push away. I let fear define my hope. That's a sin that your bible never mentioned. But I'm working on it.
I think I'm winning.
When the nights get cold and I find loneliness, or loneliness finds me, I have two pictures that look at me. I fall asleep with them beside my head. 4 eyes, 2 heads.
I never thought it would take me this long. I never dreamed I would let yesterday define my today in such a manner. Tomorrow bleeds through, though.
I found it courtesy of the internet wayback machine... which apparently cataloged those things I put up on vagabondking.com back when I had high ambitions (and low creativity).
I was portraying Jesus in a passion play that year and on a whim I decided to dye (or streak) my hair blonde. I fondly recall the Preacher saying "Jesus never had blonde streaks!". And I fondly recall responding "You knew him?".
Hence why I never portrayed Jesus in the years that followed. You can ask your Nannie in Georgia all about that.
But this was your Father, several years before either of you were born.
I recall your Mom loving my hair, then hating it, then begging me to cut it, and then lamenting that I'd complied.
Your mind will build life up to be more than it is. You will fashion castles and oubliettes and you will sequester yourself withing both. For a season.
That is human nature. That is how we reconcile our breath. That is how we absolve ourselves of all things. That is how we justify the beating of our hearts. That is what will make it all... OK.
It will never truly make sense, the living, I mean. Some would call it a journey and I suppose that is true to some extent, but it's more of a passage. A journey often dictates reason and purpose. Life isn't either of those things. It's happenstance. It's simply It. Like a passage. It doesn't ask you to use it nor travel through it. It simply exists because it has nothing better to do. In a sense, it's waiting. On You, more often than not.
People will forget what you said and they will forget what you did... but they will never forget how you made them Feel.
Be better than Me.
We're stitched together in a matter of moments. We're quilted with blinks, breaths, smiles, & tears. We're patterned from words, deeds, acts, & intentions. We're a blanket of moments. Nothing more, nothing less.