Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seeing With Old Eyes

I have always known that none of us sees things exactly the same way. I'm not speaking of having a different point of view, I'm talking about the literal act of seeing. I discovered this when I was six or seven. My mother had a friend she only saw once or twice a year. I thought this woman was lovely. She had red hair and pink cheeks. She almost always wore green. And warmth was what radiated from her eyes. I told my mother after this woman left our house one day that I thought she was pretty. My mother said, "My god, you've got bad taste. She's gaudy and cheap looking." It was in this moment that I knew my mother and I did not see the world the same way--that what was pretty to me was gaudy to her.

I have since noticed with my friends that what I choose to photograph or paint is not something they usually see as beautiful. I have one friend who works hard to make herself appear invisible. I have another friend who works very hard to make herself seen.

As for point of view, I believe there is nothing that can't be talked about, examined, and therefore "seen." My two friends both think most personal things should remain personal. This means to me that there are things they think should be secret--the dirty laundry of their lives. I think nothing cleans dirty laundry faster than a good airing. So in this metaphorical sense we do not see the world the same way.

I've been thinking about seeing because I've been taking photographs again. Looking at the photos from my past life that I've chosen to frame and put on the wall. They are all photos of small architectural details from places I've lived and loved. But the person I lived with in those places is absent. I have no family photos anywhere in my house except in old dusty albums tucked in the closet. I have so few memories of my family that are free of pain that I have chosen not to look at them anymore. But it was only after years of minute examination of their impact on my life and the truth and validity of my memories and feelings that I was able to put them away.

6 comments:

The Crow said...

You have beautiful ryrs, Peggy.

Utah Savage said...

Thank you. Right now I'm seeing myself as a woman so carelessly cruel I have become my mother, so I'm not likeing what I see when I look in the mirror. I have been so carelessly cruel to Cal I can't bring myself to email him to apologize and let him know how terrible I feel or to write a post exposing myself as the cruel bitch I have become. I guess if I'm true to the person I present to all of you, I have to out myself as the woman Cal must see when he thinks of me.

susan said...

I've never kept family photographs on display either but for different reasons than you. I tend to get lost in memories both sweet and sad particularly because I was so determined to move faster than life so it wouldn't catch up with me or the people I most loved. It didn't work. My mother died in spite my better plan and since then I've kept her picture (sitting on her balcony rail overlooking the lake where she lived for 45 years). She's smiling at me and telling me all will be well. That goes for you too and whatever it was you said in a thoughtless moment.

SarahA said...

I think that too and that's what I love about life. We all hear, see, think, act so differently *dance* Thank God!

Lisa said...

I love photos of things, shapes, even parts of a person, rather than the whole person. I'm glad you're taking photos again. I want to see your work.

(flickr account, cough, cough)

Justine said...

This is a nice reflection, and I believe you've hit on some things that are very true.