Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Photograph For Her

When I think about people I care about, their actual real-life images aren’t what I see in my mind. I mean, the physical image flashes through, but it’s specter-like, fading in and out under what I really see.

What I really see is this other thing, which is hard to explain. I don’t see the person as a body, but more the essence of what they are made up of. It’s a mixture of image and sensory impulse and emotional instinct/impact. Each person, as I get to know them, comes to look like something different. A walled fortress, a lily stem, a purring cat in front of a fireplace, a finely honed, shining blade, a gathering of white pillows on a dark wooden floor.

There's this woman I know. To me, when I imagine her, she’s made up entirely of the flecks of light reflected off of moving water. Her image is solid in outline, but everything inside is moving and changing and swirling around—lights dancing and whirring like electron clouds around the denser nuclei of her heart and brain.

It’s stunningly beautiful. The thing is, she can’t see it.

A lot of us are like that. Maybe we fear the chaos of our inner makeup makes us too scary, no matter how luminous each individual element within it may be. Maybe we are so worried about whether conditions will erode—about if we can manage to hold on and maintain the precisely perfect confluence of water and wind and motion that will keep the light of who we are from dimming or going out—that we are always only looking outside ourselves to what isn’t working, and forgetting to stop and really look inside at what is. Maybe it’s just our own luminosity, looked at at such close range, burns our own eyes and blinds us from ever being able to see ourselves properly--our own personal Greek tragedy.

There are a lot of reasons why we might not be able to see ourselves as we are in the world.

Sometimes I have trouble knowing what I actually look like. When this happens, when feel I can’t grasp what I look like out in the world, sometimes I take a photograph of myself, so I can see.

This post is me taking a photograph for her so she can see what she looks like.

And it’s me saying to her, yes, this image I’m showing you, what’s inside you, it’s crazy and confused and dependent on conditions that don’t always come through. But it’s also so bright, and full of rare luminosity that it fascinates and delights everyone who encounters it; people are drawn in and can not look away. And I'm showing in this photo how even at night, even when the hours are darkest, even when the water runs cold and black, there’s still the reflection of the street lamps and the moon and the stars, all glancing off the surface and dancing inside you, shooting up like like silver-scaled flying fish and fireflies and fairy lights and sparklers on the Fourth of July, slicing through the dark night.

Hold on to this photograph and look at it whenever you're not sure.

And my friend, this is for you.

And so is this.

And so is this.

And so is this.

(Photo credit: Starry Waters by southernangel7345)


Anonymous Hiromi said...

Sometimes I have trouble knowing what I actually look like.

I get an image of embers.

9/12/2006 11:50 PM  
Blogger Mu Ling said...

I love all of those songs.

Your friend must be very beautiful. As are you.

9/13/2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Hiromi: Aw, thanks. Can there be a baby Phoenix in there, like Fawkes in Harry Potter?

Mu Ling: My friend *is* very beautiful. And thank you for thinking I am. And I'm guessing anyone who inspires six poems in a row is, too. :)

It's so hard to convince yourself sometimes, though. It's so much easier to see the flaws. That's why sometimes having someone write how they see you or feel about you makes such a difference. Sadly, most people forget to tell others these good things. We assume they'll just *know* we think they're amazing. I can't speak for other people, but the way I operate, if no one tells me they see it or feel it, I assume no one can.

9/13/2006 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a very special gift to your friend.
I think friends like you are extremely rare - she's lucky.

9/16/2006 5:44 PM  

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