In a garden somewhere, not quite here and not quite anywhere, there’s a boy who is afraid of eyes. It’s not just eyes. It’s the laughing of a stuffed clown, a hand me down from another generation and he too is afraid of those. They grow like blisters on his heart but what is there to be done? He is ten and the world is all bark. He knows as well as any other boy his age that where there is a bark, there is a bite. The scar in the shape of a backwards “7” on his nose proves it.
The hand-me-downs aren’t all bad, he knows, but there are so many things he still doesn’t understand so he does the only thing he knows will keep him safe. He begins writing down how he feels, early in the morning when the ice freezes to the ground, late at night when there are sinister sounds beneath the drone of his radio. A little brown thing that, too, was left over from an older generation.
He learns this way, that the world is a garden. Everywhere he looks there are miracles and joys and statues of things that came from his mind and there is no greater joy in his garden. It is where he goes when he fears, the things in the night that live beyond the light cannot harm him there. In the safe wrought iron barrier of the garden, the boy knows nothing can hurt him, but they can still see him.
Each night he sleeps, to the host of eyes onlooking from the darkness beyond his closet doors.
I’m afraid, and always have been, of things touching/piercing/probing near the eye. Whether it is mine or another’s doesn’t matter.
I don’t know exactly where the fear emerged, but I would hazard a guess it came from my youth, when I was rooting around out pantry looking for my parent’s junk food stash and knocked a container of spices from a high shelf. I sent (among other things) an unsealed jar of cayenne pepper flying, which spilled all over my face and eyes. The burning sensation still visits me in my dreams sometimes, a ghost of a memory, to this day. Occasionally it will come, a burning sensation in the back of my eyeball craving to be dug up like a spoiled corpse beneath a sick moonlight.
I remember, too, when I was younger, wasting most of an afternoon trying desperately to put a pair of contacts in. When it got close to my eyes, I blinked. Everyone blinks, but this was not of my own volition. It was my eyes, of their own volition, protecting themselves. For a long, long time I tried with my mother and the optometrist and through a combination of sheer force and the help of two people holding my eyelid open, I managed to slip one (1) contact on. Getting the second one was a pipe dream, and I gave up immediately.
I haven’t tried to get contacts since then, but now, many years later I’m considering Lasik.
What changed? Certainly not the fear, I still cringe when someone’s eye is maimed on television. I can’t even watch my friends put their contact lenses in. I’m afraid even today, of anything that would result in my needing to use an eyewash station. Yet, all this being said, I am warming up to the idea of someone etching my eye healed with a laser.
Learning is my oldest love, it was the first passion I grew in my little garden, and I love it more and more each time I see someone else learning about themselves. There is a stark pain that comes with learning, with growth and change. It does not come easily and it does not come quickly. For one to change takes a great deal of their self to commit to something new, something foreign within them.
I, at one time, was adamantly against therapy for the sake of “being normal” — That is to say, I believed those who needed therapy were folk who carried with them an eccentricity which I did not carry. A great sorrow they couldn’t conquer, an addiction, that sort of thing. It wasn’t until I was much older that I came to understand that everyone we meet could probably use guidance in some fashion. Not necessarily full blown, weekly sessions, but every once and a while I think its wise for us to sit down in a room designed for us to fix ourselves.
There is a prevailing thought which I was at one time beneath the influence of, that whoever we are in the current moment is good enough. That we need not change unless pressed upon, that our thoughts and feelings and beliefs today are enough themselves to carry us through the rest of our lives. However, this is glaringly untrue.
We will never be done growing. It is the nature of life and my greatest fear, beyond the popping of eyes and the things that live outside my periphery, is that I will become stagnant. That one day I will become “fulfilled” in myself and stop yearning for more.
There is a beauty in the pain of growth and it is a beauty which is seldom seen. Seldom understood, like most of the most beautiful things are.
Since I began this lifelong journey, I’ve become many things I didn’t think I would be. I am a sailor, a constructor, a therapist and a lawyer. I’m an entrepreneur and a taxidermist. I am a teacher and, just like I was back then (and will always be) I am a student.
If I could reach back through the nettles of time and reach out to that ten year old boy terrified of contact lenses and cayenne pepper, worried about what his teachers might fail him on, utterly possessed by the need for new yugioh cards and filled with wonder until he burst at the seams, I would promise him, the day the powder hit him isn’t the end. Neither was the day the contact lenses refused to be a part of his future.
Today isn’t the end, either. It rarely is, in the grand scheme of things.
We all have a lot to learn, in one way or another. Though we might become infatuated with the beauty in art, or music, the way their creators possessed their tools to craft something beautiful is easy to see. It’s easy to look at a piece of Van Gogh’s work and muse its eternal meaning, it’s everlasting beauty. It’s easy to listen to songs we’ve loved since diapers and reminisce on the memories, a beauty all its own.
Aren’t you and I the same?
You are in the process of being crafted into a masterpiece of your own design, both the crafter and the art. You are something beautiful, vibrant with all the colors of your sorrows and your joys, your jealousy and your fear all tangle together to make you. Something that is worth more value than any memory, any song that’s ever been sung.
But none of the greats were great from the beginning. They were great because they took the time to learn, to build themselves, and to grow. Just as “Starry Night,” “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” and “Guernica” took time and knowledge, so do you.
It is more beautiful than any ink laid to canvas, the way you conquered your fear, or your addiction or your sorrows. It is so beautiful how you have learned to speak with care, instead of anger. It is beautiful, all the things you are learning about yourself.
You are on your way, and somewhere in the thorn bush of time there is a ten year old boy with cayenne pepper behind his eyes who is rooting for you with all his hopes and dreams. You are on your way, and anyone can see that, even if we don’t all have our contacts in.
If you ask me, that’s awfully beautiful.
My Favorite Flowers is the final series release of Lifeis+ 2023, and with only three parts, it is also the shortest. It’s the culmination of my month and within are the things I hope to leave you with as we come to a close. Keep an eye out tomorrow & Thursday for the following posts.
Thank you for participating once more in the Lifeis+ celebration. I’ve got a lot to celebrate this time around so you’ll be hearing from me often. If you’d like to read more, you can check out me current fiction project Sisters of Westwinter & The Heart, Felt Series below!
If you’d like to support what I’m doing here, you can click either of the links below to be taken to ways you can help you (if you feel so inclined!)
I’ve recently started a Ko-fi Shop online where, if you would like to help support me as I continue to work on my various writing projects here and over on Vocal, I would be so, so appreciative.
As of the publication of this post, it’s a little barebones but I’m working on getting it spruced up! I’ll be linking it at the end of each of my posts going forward if you are interested in helping me keep my eyes open at all. Anything offered through Ko-fi will go directly back into the blog, or toward other projects I can’t afford at the time.
Regardless of your decision, thank you for being here. 🔺
A.T. Baines Ko-Fi
Mental Health Support
Consider donating to a charity with the intention of aiding those struggling with thoughts of Suicide, Self Harm or Depression.
Below I’ve listed a few charities and non-profit organizations you can donate to. if you’d like to support groups trying to make the world a little bit less sad.
If you don’t see your preferred charity here, pick one! Or go give someone’s dog a treat. Anything kind will work. ❤️
More From Me:
Creativity is sometimes like a spark. Once it lights, it can set fire to every soft thing within you until you are left with a smoldering pile of ash and jewelry made of earth & glass.
Creativity is sometimes like a vine. Once it has rooted it will grow forward, wrapped around whatever provides it stability. Occasionally, should it put its hopes upon a frail dowel or worn stretch of shiplap it may crumble and its course my veer.
[SOW] Interlude Three: The Seafarer’s Secret
To do what was required of her meant in most cases she needed to silence the part of herself that called out with the cries of the sinking crews. On her last run, as soon as she and her crew boarded the vessel and began tearing apart their commodities, she realized immediately it was not…