We all have blind spots, those parts of ourselves where we can’t see something even though it is in full view of others. In a car, we often have to stop and turn very deliberately and with a contortion to make sure we have all a line of clear sight before we can move with confidence, we do that knowing we are on the road with potential hazards all around us and without caution and care we might put ourselves in harm’s way. This is not true to the blind spots we hold in relationships where we trust, have confidence and operate as if there is no present danger. We don’t doubt ourselves about the range of vision of the circumstances we find ourselves in. We often need others to point out to us what they can clearly see as an obstacle we are facing even though we don’t see it in amongst the everyday obstacles of living without fear. When fear arrives we begin to second guess everything, we start to check and double check and even triple check the incoming information. The doubts seep in and we don’t move as confidently on our path or make definitive claims or easy decisions at the crossroads or read the map with the same level of assuredness.
I wonder if the blind spot is a way of us colluding with our selves, not turning or examining what there is to see and learn? I wonder if it is there to protect us from seeing things that will hurt us? I wonder if it is there to invite others to help us see what we can’t see? A blind spot is incredibly uncomfortable to face once it is pointed out and you turn towards to the light and see what is there facing you in full view. It is a transfiguration of sorts to come into the blinding light of truth to see something that you couldn’t see before. The invitation offered is one to ask questions you have never asked before, to make meaning from actions that have not had meaning attributed to them, to explore new possibilities and to be open the heartbreaking liberation of an unexplored view, a horizon becoming more visible as the fog lifts.
In the Celtic myth of the Tuatha De Danann, the tall supernatural Irish tribe of gods and goddesses, teachers of science and the arts, with mystical powers to communicate beyond the grave and brought with them four treasures – a stone, a spear, a sword of light and a cauldron from which no one would ever go hungry. At the moment of attack and when their final battle against overwhelming odds was upon them – they turned sideways towards the light and disappeared. It was not an act of cowardice or retreat, it was a way of not fighting and finding freedom in a new dimension. They went to the edge and from there turned towards, not away, to the light, the light saves them from perishing and leaves their enemies without a fight to be had. The battle evaporates. They found the blind spot of their enemy and in turn found their freedom – an extraordinary juxtaposition and lesson from a legend. It took to the third battle before they took this action. So I take some comfort that even these wise ones didn’t do it in the first instance, and indeed not doing it at the beginning of their war, they were able to make some gains along the way and learn some lessons that lead them to their final departure from the battle field. They were not going to be taken prisoner by the fight or the enemy. To turn and face the light instead of an on- coming maurading horde seems like very good advice to me. Perhaps it is even the foundations of nonviolent action? If there is nothing to fight then the fight is over; the disinfecting powers of sunlight so well known in modern science reinforces the hygienic value of such an action.
There is something about the relationship between a blind spot and turning towards the light captivating me. To become transparent and the veil has dropped and all is there to be seen is shining a light on truth and beauty, but to turn towards the light, is a movement of you to the light, where the you and the light can blaze as one, not two elements mirroring one another. An invitation not to reflect the mystical, but to be the mystical.
The blind spot that protected us in the beginning pivots as we become the light and it evaporates. While it is as natural as a flower rears her head to reach the light and rotate to get the best rays, it feels un-natural to not face the enemies when they appear on the battle field. To leave them there without a fight, to leave the scene altogether feels like giving up, but to be transfigured is to be elevated and transformed, it is an act of beauty visible to gods and goddesses and not one for the dark arts of war and wounds. Luminosity on another plane is quite intoxicating, if only it was as easy as turning towards the light. Checking just how many battles you have to be in before you leave the field and my enemy is an invisible one turning up when I often am devoid of my armoury.
As an act of self-compassion I am reminding myself , I need people around me to help me with blind spots and I am grateful for those who point them out to me. This is feedback with bravery. I am also setting a practice to notice when I can turn towards the light, and in doing find more beauty and peace, more artistry and magic.
Turn sideways into the light as they say
the old ones did and disappear
into the originality of it all.
Be impatient with easy explanations
and teach that part of the mind
that wants to know everything
not to begin questions it cannot answer.
Walk the green road above the bay
and the low glinting fields
toward the evening sun, let that Atlantic
gleam be ahead of you and the gray light
of the bay below you, until you catch,
down on your left, the break in the wall,
for just above in the shadows
you’ll find it hidden, a curved arm
of rock holding the water close to the mountain,
a just-lit surface smoothing a scattering of coins,
and in the niche above, notes to the dead
and supplications for those who still live
But for now, you are alone with the transfiguration
and ask no healing for your own
but look down as if looking through time,
as if through a rent veil from the other
side of the question you’ve refused to ask.
And you remember now, that clear stream
of generosity from which you drank,
how as a child your arms could rise and your palms
turn out to take the blessing of the world.
In RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems
© David Whyte and Many Rivers Press