FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Looking, Seeing

by MISSY BEATTIE

I saw the dime when I was running. I continued on and then circled back, picking up the coin to throw to the gods for an unselfish wish. I thought about the mythology, a ritual I usually associate with finding a penny.

Later, mid-afternoon, as I walked to the grocery, a disheveled man approached. “Can you spare a dime? I need something to eat,” he said. I started to tell him I’d tossed one on his behalf just hours before—that if my wish came true, he wouldn’t be hungry. No one would.

I thought it was clever—to ask only for a dime. He smelled like stale beer. But so what? Around 4:00, I’d have a drink. Maybe two. And possibly smell like stale Prosecco later.

Tucked between finding that dime and encountering the hungry man, a floor expert was in my apartment.

Because………………

A few nights before, I lay awake, fixated on furniture placement. Finally, I got out of bed and began to work.

Facing the dining table, I eyed its legs and their position on the rug. The goal was balance. The rug needed inching, about eight, to the right. The heavy dining table and chairs prevented that. I moved them.

The sofa’s front legs secured the rug at its other end. I bent down, lifting the sofa, pulling, pushing, and then felt or heard (don’t know which sense registered first) condo-monium.

Standing, turning, I saw a porcelain and glass tango. The huge vase and a small table’s top seemed to tease each other—teasing me. And then in a grand finale, the two collided. When the last shard was quiet, I saw divots in the wall,  baseboard, and the wood floor. Beneath the table was a third casualty, another porcelain. My favorite expletive was followed with, “Oh, well, it’s not human life, or a pet.”

E-pal P. commiserated, after I’d related details of the wreckage, writing a commentary on the importance of beauty in our lives. Telling me she had cut pink peonies from her garden and placed them in a cut glass crystal vase. Said she intended to photograph this “…so I remember how much pleasure that simple action brought me.” She continued:

I am so sorry you lost your porcelain vase, as you

say, just a thing, but some things, like a gorgeous,

huge Chinese vase, bring us such simple pleasures

the loss of that pleasure is greater than the loss of

the actual thing.

I thought of Charles. Those long walks we’d take in Manhattan. I’d see something lovely through a shop’s window, stop, pull him close, and say, “Look at this. Wouldn’t you like to have it?” And he, not a material man, would shake his head no.

“But I wouldn’t mind knowing the person who does,” he’d say.

Yesterday, on the balcony’s rail, a pair of cardinals rested, gazing into each other’s eyes, flirting. I sat and watched through a space the porcelain vase once claimed. I moved closer to the window. The loving birds must’ve sensed a violation of their privacy. Because the feathers flew, soaring somewhere. Next time, I’ll maintain distance.

If that big vase had been on the table, I wouldn’t have noticed the cardinals. I think about that. What I’ve missed by adorning my life with ornaments, the acquisitions that, while individualizing a place, attract more attention than they deserve.

Now, back to the floor expert: Pointing to a sad bonsai tree not too far from the damaged wood, he began to tell me about his hobby. And then he scrolled through his photos to reveal the breathtaking bonsai Eden in his backyard. He told me to remove my troubled plant from its pot and use chopsticks, like a comb, to separate the tangled roots and loosen the soil. “Cut the roots about three inches from the bulb,” he instructed.

All this nature and nurture lead to its logical segue—the health of the world, our planet. Politics.

Milos immigrated to the US seventeen years ago from the Czech Republic.

If I hadn’t obsessed on the furniture, gotten out of bed, and wreaked havoc in my living/dining room, I’d be wondering what to do with the withering bonsai, oblivious to the birds, and I wouldn’t have met this interesting man whose wife is pregnant with their first child.

And that guy who was hungry? I saw him again. He said, “Can you spare a dime? I’m hungry.” He asks so little.

I’m going to stop wishing on coins. Nothing’s happening with that. Maybe I’ll wish on stars. In fact, I’ll look out at the night sky and the deck that’s slightly illuminated when darkness settles, in a few minutes. But first I want to mention an article I just read. It details a report from a panel of climate change scientists whose authors are “95 percent to 100 percent confident that human activity is the primary influence on planet warming.” That carbon dioxide levels are “up 41 percent since the Industrial Revolution…” These experts warn that increased temperatures will lead to  “widespread melting of land ice, extreme heat waves, difficulty growing food and massive changes in plant and animal life, probably including a wave of extinctions.”

Okay, I’m shutting down the computer, off to look and see something, while there’s still something left to see.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail