I Was Too Intrigued With Clouds

23 Mar

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll post some content related to the almost-ready Dove&Snake Issue No. 2. Here’s a little something from the travels of Matthew Helmke, whose story “A Wife from the Mountains” appears in both Nowhere Else to Turn, his self-published book of supernatural tales from Morocco, and our soon-to-be-available pages:

“Get up! You’re going to be late!” Oh, if I had a penny for every time I heard those words. Sigh. Here we go.

I rise, wipe the crispy remnants of sleep from my eyes, and attempt to face the day. Through the fog I feel about for my glasses.

Oh, yes. My glasses. How they once defined me! I remember the day I received my first pair, walking out of the optician’s shop filled with wonder and the strange, new world around me.

“Look! You can see the leaves on the trees!!” I exclaimed, repeatedly reminding my well-meaning parents of just how blind I actually was. How sad they must have felt. To tell the truth, I didn’t notice. I was too intrigued with clouds, with the odd new perspective with which the world appeared to me, and with remembering the words of the optimetrist as he fitted my frames: “Be careful. It will take a few days for your eyes to adjust. Things will look a bit odd for a while.”

He was right. Doors looked crisp and clean, but strangely bowed toward me at the center. The sidewalk seemed to move at unexpected times and in directions I could not anticipate. My entire perspective had shifted.

The doctor was right. It took some time to adjust, to adapt myself to a newfound clarity of vision.

How often has this been repeated in my life? I can’t really answer that. I mean, there were the constant physical changes that always took me by surprise during adolescence, the days when my shoes suddenly wouldn’t fit and I would spend all day tripping over myself. There was the time in my late 20s when I had eye surgery, laser vision correction, which eliminated my need for glasses. That last one was freeing, but neither of these had the impact of the day I first saw the world clearly.

Is that how life is intended to be lived? I kind of think it is. We innocently pass the time, believing we see things as they are, then suddenly, and with no real warning, we receive a gift. Our eyes are opened and we gain a perspective and a clarity that we never had before.

I live for those moments. I long for them. I realize that there is so little about this world and the next that I truly comprehend and something within me screams out, “There must be more! What am I missing? What am I not seeing here?!” I pray. I read. I ask questions. Sometimes the search is easy, sometimes it is not. Regardless, the question compels me and I must search.

Written on the train from Fez to Rabat, February 19, 2008.

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