“Hey, you! Your eyes are untied.”
Decades have passed since she first uttered those words to me. We were in Kindergarten then, yet she spoke them with such certainty that, even as an adult, I couldn’t shake the feeling that she had meant something by them. Whenever I’d ask her to explain what she meant, however, she’d just smile and laugh at me, as though it were obvious. What was it, I wondered, that she could see, yet I could not?
Sometimes, during recess, I would sit alone on a bench and squeeze my eyes shut, flexing the lids as hard as I could. I thought that maybe, if I did it just right, I could find my grip, and tie together whatever inner threads had come loose. Colorful, phosphene patterns emerged from the darkness, and when I saw them, I thought that I was getting somewhere; yet, whenever I opened my eyes once more, the world outside myself looked exactly the same as I had left it.
As I aged, and began to seek higher wisdom, I delved into the lost history of optics. I read about Goethe’s clash with Newton over the origins of the spectrum, Babbitt’s Principles of Light and Color, and even the Book of Secret Anatomy’s revisionist view of human evolution. I learned about the third eye chakra, and the third eyes wedged into the skulls of iguanas, and the role of the pineal gland in human consciousness. From there, I attempted to untangle the whole of my worldly perceptions through meditative practice. I found Enlightenment at a monastery hidden away in the Rocky Mountains, yet even then, when I would ground myself and return to reality, the universe beyond my skull looked exactly as it had when I was still a child.
Despite the fact that I hadn’t seen her in decades, she returned to visit me in my visions. I found myself at the playground of the gods-to-be, a world unto itself, where the monkey bars ranged from mountain to mountain. I looked down at her, and she looked up at me, and I asked her again what it was that she had meant when she’d told me that my eyes were untied.
She smiled and laughed, as she always had before, but this time, she had an answer for me:
“Made you look.”