What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
The curtains are open now, ever since Mom left, and I am alone in the house with the dogs and my daughter, whenever she returns home from college on seasonal breaks. I hadn’t realized how long the curtains had been closed, blocking, as Mom said, the light that appeared too bright to her, and could “damage the furniture”. How funny it is to page through one’s childhood like a book, counting how often one heard that expression “Shut the curtains!” like a fearful warning against the outside world.
It’s funny how the paranoia that really inspired the curtain-shutting, was verbally curtained itself. It was about protecting furniture.
Or was it?
Regardless, all the curtains are drawn back or removed in the house now, symbolizing my bold embrace of whatever will happen to me, and the answers for which I now search. Woods surround me, so I have little to fear of peeping Toms or invasion of privacy. No one is interested in my privacy anyway, now that Mother’s gone, let alone invading it, but my privacy is like a silent, suffocating tomb that will kill me, if I don’t open the curtains.
It’s not that the answers will come all at once, when I pass by a window.
It’s not as if a deer will suddenly alight on my lawn, allow me to follow it on secret pathway into the woods, and direct me to where my secret treasure lies buried since ancient times, in cold and darkened earth.
But I do know I want to see all those off limit places, experience everything, explore those pathways, do everything that has been purposely withheld from me. If these things had to be purposely withheld from me, I wonder, are they not those that are specifically mine by birthright, that which precisely I was born to find? For I have lived more than half of my life in a tangled forest of my own.
I was raised in it.
At night I lay awake in bed and look out a huge window, that takes up more than half the expanse of my wall. Most often the trees, the clouds, or the winter fog, will be covering the stars, but on nights like this I toss, and am suddenly startled awake by a night so clear the stars are twinkling, as they say, in bright and merry profusion. The light in them reminds me of my father’s eyes, that to me contained the mysteries of life. It’s so beautiful, this scene, and I’m breathing slowly now, resting, after running for as long as I can remember.
Meditating upon the stars, in some sort of divine and sleepy ecstasy, the stars seem to dance. They speak of beautiful secrets and constant truths that will be there forever, regardless of who notices their light, or who refuses to, hiding behind curtains and paneling of their own, or another’s making. Who knew the stars in the heaven could be so grounding, because they were always there no matter what, even as the ground upon which I walked shifted, like the waters of a turbulent sea?
Suddenly it dawns (to use another celestial expression) that their light shines on everyone – the same stars, the same truths, regardless of perceived reflection, a person’s locale, even false perceptions, created by the shuttered nature of anyone’s mind. Suddenly it’s most fitting the magi were astronomers.
Because the stars never change. They are always there. Only we, on the earth, do.
I am a much less fearful person now.
Fearfulness doesn’t have to be genetic.
And so, these thoughts having comforted me, before I drift back into an even more restful slumber, I make a very specific mental note to self.
Never allow your mind to become shuttered, or have curtains imposed upon you against your will, ever again. I choose the constant over the transitory, the lasting over death, and the real and beautiful, over my own darkened shadows and fears.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly, to be fearful of the night. – Sarah Williams, The Old Astronomer