Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Fabric That Wasn't There

Yesterday I was leaning against Damon's shoulder, facing down, with my eyes closed - crashing and caffeine-buzzing at the same time - when the spinning hit. I opened my eyes to do the point-fixing trick to shut it off, and was startled to see his arm covered by a swathe of white fabric with little black dots all over it; about the size of dotted swiss, but in an irregular pattern. Of course no such fabric exists, and I didn't much like to fix my eye on anything that didn't exist, but the alternative was turning my head, so I managed it. The spinning stopped and gradually my color vision and depth perception returned, so that Damon's arm separated out from the expanse of my sundress, which is white with red cherries on it. The cherries are much larger than the dots I saw at first, but I saw one emerge from the other.

This was all more disagreeable to experience than I am likely to be able to express, and is also illustrative of the fact that just because we see something, doesn't mean it's there.

Conversely, I have several times this week gone looking for something and had to return to the place it was more than once before I could see it, though (absent the fairies) it must have been in my field of vision every time I went there. This illustrates the fact that just because we don't see something, doesn't mean it's not there.

So how on earth can we tell what is and isn't true?

Given that truth and the universe are infinite, and our brains are finite, we can't. Insisting on doing so will either drive us mad with uncertainty, or (and this is the most commonly-chosen option) box us in to a mental state much smaller than our natural capacity, rejecting any points of view or new information that make us uncomfortable, and cutting ourselves off from truth and the universe in favor of a virtual environment that we find more comfortable. This often involves talking to our own reflections and confining our personal life to people from whom we cannot learn anything new. Conversely, if we accept our limitations and roll with them, we will find ourselves more and more comfortable in a larger and larger space, able to have more fruitful conversations with a wider variety of people, and coping better in unfamiliar situations.

All of which is better than permanently seeing the fabric that isn't there.


  1. Sounds like you have been having another bad week. I'm sorry you have to go thru this so often and thankful that you and Damon have each other. Love you both!

  2. Oh, forgot to say: I think what you are saying about truth is very "true". So hard to discern and the truth is not always the same for everyone. Your truth and mine are often different but we love each other anyway.

  3. Naw, nobody went to the hospital, and according to her husband's reports to the writing listserve Elaine is making movements that the neurosurgeon says indicate her brain is working on getting something beyond the reflexes back into order; so this week wasn't bad. It wasn't productive, and I'm pretty tired of the vertigo, though. A lot of the unproductivity is just feeling wiped from the heat. I think I'm drinking a gallon of water a day, and every time I turn around my glass needs refilling.