My eyeglasses broke last week and for three days, while waiting for new ones, I had to wear my sunglasses.
I’ve worn eyeglasses since I was eleven — I’m too nearsighted to do much without them — but rarely sunglasses, preferring the glare to the lie. Yet for three days I looked and felt like someone on drugs, narcotized to harsh extremes, safe from the light: I hated it.
And it was a valuable reminder that we see differently, agreeing about the outlines of things, but not the hues, the nuances, the meanings — sharing the air but rising on the wings of our own perception.
We may or may not believe what we see, but we always see what we believe, and nothing else — an eagle rising high knows a different world than a hummingbird, a man glued to the television won’t discover his eagle heart.
“The evidence of our senses” is always compelling, realistic, an open and shut case to a jury of peers. But like the invisible ink we played with as children, some things only come clear in a certain light. It slants through the window in another courtroom, where different “facts” are disclosed. You slip on dark glasses and talk fast, your fluttering heart raising one objection after another, appealing the harshness of life, until the judge — his eyes a color you’ve never seen before, dancing with love, his wings flecked with blood — silences you: old eagle-eyes, sentencing you to life and more life, shadows and glare everlasting.
“It’s disconcerting,” A. said. “You usually smile with your eyes, not your mouth, and I can’t see your eyes.” But if I took off the sunglasses I couldn’t see her eyes; we rely on the mirrors everyone offers us, to straighten a collar or a thought, know when to keep on talking, when to stop.