friday faves - seeing the world

While I was walking Rudy the dog the other day I bumped into a fellow dog walker. To say that Dick walks his dog, however, isn’t totally accurate. Dick drives to the college athletic fields, parks, shuffles to a nearby corner of grass, slowly lowers himself onto the ground at the base of a tall pine tree and sits—almost lays. Nicky, his pint-sized mocha toy poodle, stays at the end of his retractable leash, which is attached to a clip on a tan canvas dog vest.

Due to a neurological disorder Dick is severely crippled, contorted. He is so stooped that his face hovers just a few feet above the ground, as if he is bending down to pick something up or tie his shoe, frozen in a perpetual crumpled upside down "L". When I see Dick with his dog I often stop to say hello. I crouch down as far as I can get so we can talk face to face. As best he can he cranes his neck to the side so he can look me in the eyes. His are watery and blue, mine green. At ninety-two his hearing is impaired so I speak loudly and clearly. Dick is a veteran of war and has proudly shown me the memoir he self-published, bound and stacked in boxes sitting lonely in the back of his truck. “They’re going to make a movie out of it,” he once told me. I hope they do.

After our brief visits I find myself imagining how Dick sees the world. I’m curious if he regards beautiful decaying leaves floating in puddles intermingling with the muddy silhouette of his own reflection. Might he admire ants struggling over their rocky terrain carrying the day's haul? Does he recognize people by the shoes on their feet and the sound of their voice? Does he miss stretching his arms toward the sky regarding the clouds and glittering flocks of birds? It is impossible to know unless, of course, I ask.

Then I realize that I wonder the same kinds of things about my own son. How does Calvin see and interpret the world? I have no idea. I am at a total loss. I cannot ask and Calvin cannot tell me so I am left guessing.

But wondering, meditating, reflecting on these things is okay. I’ll remain close by my son’s side, nearly joined at the hip by necessity, and study his every move, reaction, interaction, smile and motivation. I will try as I may, somehow, to see the world through Calvin’s eyes—even through Dick's eyes—instead of merely through my own. No doubt I can learn something new.

Originally published 3.28.2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment