philobiblius ([personal profile] philobiblius) wrote2014-02-13 03:03 pm
Entry tags:

Depth Perception

When we walk in darkness, those of us fortunate enough to have vision are conscious of the lack. We are tentative in our steps, feeling our way along with whatever glimmers and memories we have. If we are outside in the snow, we are careful of the path, the depth, and potential tripping hazards.

When we walk in the beginnings of false dawn, it feels so much lighter and easier to see that we tend to slough off a lot of that timidity and walk as if we can actually see where we are going. And we can, to an extent. We can see short distance destinations fairly well, but we really don't have a good sense of our footing. There is a flatness to light at twilight, whether pre-dawn or dusk, that denies us effective depth perception. Skiers know this sort of condition well, and remember in their muscles as well as their minds the feeling of unanticipated moguls and dips on the slopes and trails, as we wend our way down them on the last runs of the day.

Shadows are absent, as are other visual clues about the edges where one height blends into another, most often discovered by... accident.

What we tend to miss is how much of our lives is actually spent in metaphorical twilight - areas in which we have just enough light to think we can see, while the nuances, the shadows, the edges that mark important differences are missing - missing to the point that we don't even know there is something there to see, as we might if we were totally ignorant. This is the essence of the phrase "knows just enough to be dangerous."

What is it like to be black, gay, Jewish, blind, brilliant, OCD, immigrant, impoverished, care-taking, abused, without spoons, or a thousand other conditions - positive, negative, neutral, other?!

We don't know, but we are quick to decide what *we* would do in those situations and how /that/ person or /those/ people are mishandling it.

This does not make us wrong - but it increases the chance of our being wrong to a huge extent. And the bigger problem that goes with that is that our belief that we have enough light to see makes us resistant to input from those who are living or have lived the circumstances or for whom there has been far more light than the dimness we are inhabiting.

I don't have a fix for the lack of vision from which you suffer, from which I suffer, with regard to lives that are too distinct from our own. I cannot automatically shed light on these for you/us.

I can tell you:

LISTEN to the voices of the folks in those places.

*START* with the assumption that you are in twilight and cannot see clearly.

Just knowing you are in twilight may make it easier to avoid unnecessary stumbling.