For Writers Island prompt: Clarity
When I hear the word clarity, a very clear image comes to mind. That of a bird of prey: an eagle, hawk, or an owl. Creatures who move swiftly through the air at speeds that would blur human eyesight, causing tears, that would certainly obstruct not only our ability to see, but also to maintain such movement. They see what we can not: the silver flash of a fish in moving water, the scurrying path of a wee small mouse through dense grass in the darkness after midnight. Not only do they see it clearly, they immediately dive to obtain it, using every muscle and skill they own to point their entire being at solid ground, or fast moving water, in order to capture what they need to continue to survive. They own that moment of clarity. And do that day after day after day.
Since the first day of this current month, I have been participating in an exercise of writing one clear observation each day. Doesn’t sound all that difficult does it? It is based on a daily Zen practice of observation, and no, it isn’t easy. Because, for the most part, we don’t see clearly for much of our existence. We see the familiar, and because it is familiar, we don’t actually see it: observe it as separate from ourselves, existing apart from us, and doing that without our permission, lol.
I have been reading another Dean Koontz book. Rereading it, actually. I know I’ve read it before because I keep running across things I’ve underlined. Yet, I don’t remember the story much past the opening chapter. After that it is all new to me. That takes me totally by surprise because I have what is called ‘recall.’
When I read anything, if it speaks to me, I can remember it. I used it this morning, when I went in search of something I read last night. I knew what portion of the book it was in, and also knew which side of the two pages it was located on, as well as how far down that page it could be found. It took only two or three minutes of swift skimming to find it. I hadn’t underlined it when reading it the previous evening.
But, that aspect of recall fades quickly, sometimes within days, other times a week or two. All depending on how much of an impression was made the first time around, and how much I want or need to go back to that place of original contact. Recall is, perhaps, a close cousin to a photographic memory, when an individual can recall in vivid precise detail something seen somewhere in the past, and can them repeat it word for word, or describe it with a clear dimensional perspective.
Recall simply means I have a fairly reliable memory, not infallible, but reliable in a general manner. And because I am a writer, I more often than not, remember specific words of even long ago conversations, depending on how well I was paying attention, or how those words impacted me in that moment. Which, in turn, means that I have had many moments of clarity that remain vivid within me and can be recalled time and again, often in clear and sharply defined detail.
What is interesting to me, in this present moment, is that I am aware of having read this book previously. Clearly remember the details of that opening chapter, but after that it all becomes vague, or worse, brand new when it shouldn’t be. I can’t remember when I read the book, or where I must have been while doing so. The book has been on my shelf for years, and no, I don’t know how many. Just know that I have seen it there, often and simply knew I had read it in the past at some time. Also knew when I picked it up a few days ago, I didn’t have a clue what was in it, or what it was about.
What I do know, as I am reading it now, is that I wasn’t ready for what I am finding this time. I enjoyed it last time, even underlined a few things, but it was merely entertainment. This time, it is speaking directly to me and in this place I am in. This time, I am diving into it, with all senses alert, aimed at finding the nurture I need to survive. It is a moment of clarity. Many of them, as a matter of fact.
Example: One of the main characters, in the book, is described very early on. Not just a physical description, but a very close examination of her emotional and mental state which has shaped her personality. Three sentences into a description of that personality, I wanted to get up, walk away, even go outside in below freezing weather, something I don’t do unless there is a specific need for such activity. Needless to say, there was no such need, but the impulse was undeniable.
I was looking at me, my own person over thirty years ago. I understood every single word, knew the feelings, in and out, and it wasn’t a pretty or happy picture. It made me squirm, made me want to seek fresh air, even at the risk of freezing my tush in the process. I didn’t do that. I continued to read. I picked up a pen and underlined every one of those words. Then read them aloud to my daughter. I didn’t want to forget them, and I won’t.
I failed to see them the last time I read the book. I didn’t want to see them, wasn’t ready to be quite that honest or clear. I love synchronicity. I have spent three weeks writing out a daily observation, putting on the practice of seeing clearly, one thing a day. And today, see myself more clearly than ever before. See and know where I was before, and how and why that differs from what I see and know in this moment.
I am the eagle and the hawk, moving through the air of my existence, looking for that which allows me to survive. I am the owl, looking through darkness and finding what I need. And I am grateful for all of these things. This moment of clarity that I chose to miss the last time around has come back graciously, to show me the next step in my path.