What follows is an experiment and a catharsis of sorts, spun off from an intense conversation and a wrung-out inability to sleep.
A warning for imagery. My apt metaphor may be another’s stuff of nightmares.
I am covered in blind spots, a starfish in reverse. It’s a simple quirk of biology with far-reaching consequences: two small apertures are all I have from which to observe the world, and even this concentration of visual input requires external lenses for any semblance of clarity.
Even with the assistance of my other senses, I cannot know what it feels like to live in another’s skin. Their sensory input and thought processes are not available to my own, save through the stark limitations of linguistic expression. For this reason, I cannot truly know how others experience my presence and expression.
I am conscious of my own limitations. I hear an imperfect speaker who has not yet mastered the art of when to remain silent and when to speak up. When I perceive in myself that rare moment of clarity and confidence, do others see the same, or yet another manifestation of the abrasive arrogance I am sometimes accused of? Is that abrasiveness a trick of the other’s perception, a knee-jerk response of a person resentful of youthful inexperience presuming to have thoughts worth sharing, or worse still, ill-at-ease with a woman speaking up loudly at all? Am I reading extremes where none exist?
These thoughts circle, flies awaiting the slightest opening to fill me with new-hatched burrowing doubts.
There are enough in my flesh already. The ones I can see, I can pluck out and examine. It’s the ones I can’t that worry me, brain-cysts filled with worms awaiting the right moment to burst. How much have I simply internalized, unaware of how much quietly gnaws at my thoughts? I am not Yggdrasil, I cannot stand Nidhogg’s assaults forever.
I guard my pith as best I can, but how to know what will eat away at it, and what is a graft ready to bear new fruit?
Do my views lack nuance, or am I developing them by speaking them aloud? Am I not feminine enough, or have I learned to tailor a chafing suit? Is there a middle ground between being naïve of others’ wildly varied experiences, and self-conscious of how my own experience has been channeled by a white, middle-class, cisgendered, hetero life?
If inexperience leads me to overlook something terribly important, how can knowledge of the same spontaneously generate? Puddles do not grow tadpoles without frogs first laying eggs.
I am frustrated by these narrow, unfocused pinhole cameras, frustrated by my frequent inability to understand others and have my gabblings understood in turn.
Adjust the lens.
Swap one for another.
Layer them, add a colour filter, trade with someone else for a day.
My eyes are fixed in place, but I can choose to open them wider.
I am bounded by my skin, but so is everyone else. We brush against others, absorb, learn as best we can. Thought processes morph slowly into new shapes with each touch.
A fleeting dust can have a lasting effect, if I let it.