Wilfully blind…

I may sit with my back to most of the house a lot, but I still have to do the housework. I can’t ignore it, even though I can’t necessarily see it. I know it is there and, if I leave it too long before getting started on the daily chores, it is as if something is staring at the back of my neck. I can’t settle to anything productive until it is relatively tidy…  which is as tidy as living with the small dog will allow.

So, I came home from work, played with the dog and her ever-present ball while I had a coffee, then went through to make the bed. As I shook out the covers, a shiny black spider stared back from the place where I lay my head. Now, I have no problem with spiders wandering around any other room, but me and spiders do not share the bedroom if I can help it. And I have no intention of sleeping with one.

I know they lurk in dark corners and under the bed, but as long as I do not see them, I am okay with that. I can pretend they are not there. This one, however, was not allowing me that illusion and had to be evacuated. He escaped en route to the window and scurried off who knows where. So I know that I still have a shiny black spider in my bedroom… but as I cannot see him, he doesn’t exist.

It was the same when my son brandished his leech-encrusted gloves under my nose. It is not easy to screech quietly through gritted teeth, but I consider that I managed it admirably, telling him politely to remove them from my sight as, if I looked at them…properly looked and registered what I was seeing… I would not have been able to continue with the job in hand.

And that is a completely illogical reaction, on a par with the dog hiding her eyes under a cushion. Small dog or not, she does not fit under a cushion and most of her is very visible. But, as far as she is concerned, if she can’t see me, I can’t see her.

It is like sweeping the dust under the carpet. The expression has found its way into common language, but we wouldn’t actually do it. For a start, we know that would be unhygienic, and if we did it too often, a few specks would soon become a pile, and an even messier job to clean that it would have been at the start. But we are good at doing it nonetheless and, like the dramatic trope of the unopened letter so beloved of cinematographers, there is a self-preservation mechanism that kicks in to protect us; what we do not see or acknowledge does not exist for us, so we often choose not to look.

We know about the spider, the leeches, the contents of the mythical envelope or the dust bunnies under the bed. We may even have seen them. But, unless we choose to look in such a way that what we see imprints itself on our reality, we can behave as if we have not seen anything at all. We know what is, we know what we are choosing not to see, and know that choice does not change reality one whit. But it changes our version of reality.

We see it happening all the time. We do it ourselves… and I doubt any one of us can say, with absolute honesty, that we have not. Whether it is a bill left unopened, a news item we don’t want to know too much about, the junk drawer that is quickly closed because it is in need of sorting, or avoiding the eyes of someone whose story we do not wish to know, be that a beggar in the street or the little old lady who can talk for hours.

There is no denying that it can be a useful thing, this refusal to acknowledge reality. We won’t miss your bus talking to the little old lady. We will sleep at night in spite of sharing the room with a spider. Some ancient skeletons are better left in their cupboards. And if we never look at the grass, it will never need cutting…or, not for us, at least.

It is often said that we ceate our own reality and, in this respect at least, it is true. Everything we experience through our senses changes our perception of reality. And what, of that reality, we allow to be acknowledged by consciousness, changes us.

A well-known prayer asks for the ‘serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference‘. Apply this to perception, and the ability to ‘know the difference’ is clearly the key, especially is we paraphrase a little and think about the things we need to see and the things we can choose whether to see or not. Our conscious mind is where we store the things we will act upon, while the things we choose not to acknowledge are filed ‘safely’ away. In many ways, what we allow into consciousness defines who we are choosing to be.

Just what are we sweeping under the carpet of consciousness? Whose eyes do we refuse? And how many of us will be sleeping with worse than spiders under the bed tonight?

30 thoughts on “Wilfully blind…

  1. This is so excellent. We cannot rely on what we knew yesterday, for yesterday is gone forever, and we cannot rely on tomorrow, for when it comes, it will be today. We need to constantly re-examine our knowledge of the world and our values and decisions because we are new every moment we are alive, and what fit us yesterday may no longer still fit, if it ever did. We can choose to be like the emperor and his new clothing, believing it is what we want, but we may show ourselves to be the fools when we believe that for which there is nothing but imagination behind it.

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      1. You are wonderful, Sue. Thank you so much. Yes, you are right. Imagination is our most powerful tool. But I think at some point it has to fit with some aspect of what we know (or perhaps think we know) as reality. People who live entirely in their imaginations sometimes become lost, and never return to this world as it is. I think today, more than any time I remember, there are the most lost people in this world. They are lost, confused, and turning to destruction instead of life. It is still the people who plow the fields, plant the seeds, and do the small things that their forefathers likely did that persist through time. No great monuments are built for them, and no one remembers them in literature, but they continue to be the ones who remain throughout the centuries. Isn’t it strange that these people, much like the ants that inhabit the earth, are the ones who keep producing and living on? What do you suppose it is telling us about mankind?

        I have lots of friends who used to be very positive, and now they keep writing to tell me that I should get the heck out of Dodge because there is a great catastrophe coming, or they are telling me about the horrible political things going on. I am in touch with reality, but I have decided to be like those people out in the fields planting and plowing quietly. When it is my time, it is my time, and in what manner, I have no control over. But that doesn’t at all mean that I have given up. It is just that I don’t want to fill my time with such negativity when I can choose something better. Worrying about tomorrow, as I noted before, is insanity, for when tomorrow gets here, it will be today, and yesterday is but a memory. All I really have is today, and that is good enough for me.

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        1. History has always been made by the small folk…and we are each making history, each and every day. It may be only the great and famous who are written about, but history is written by every one of us, even if it doesn’t remember our names.

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          1. I really LOVE this, Sue. I remember when I began to learn about quilt history and reading about all the women who began cottage industries that often employed hundreds of other people in the community, but you will not find them in history books, and I doubt even in women’s history. And this was in a time before women even had the vote. So yes, history doesn’t always remember our names, but the thing is that we still continue to do what we do. Perhaps in the overall scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter if anyone remembers our names; what matters is what we have done in this life (and perhaps others at some time).

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            1. I agree, Anne. Posterity? Who really needs to be remembered once those who have known us personally are gone? But if we can add something to the world while we are here…helping to raise good children, leaving behind good memories, the touch or joy or beauty, then perhaps that is all we need do.

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  2. I have an easy way to cope with housework. Without my glasses, I really cannot see the dust, grime and all those fingerprints on the bathroom mirror. Pity I can’t do something about the things in my head that I don’t need to see to know they are there, waiting for me to do something…

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  3. Sue, you are at your best again with perception and thinking outside of the box. You take a simple spider and see the many lessons of wisdom that are right there. Nature is the best teacher. Your words bring that to heart.

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