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Selective Vision

February 15, 2013

Have you seen this? A man sits cross-legged on a cold street corner with a tin cup at his feet. In his hands he holds a sign that says, “I’m blind. Please help.’ Well-dressed professionals clip past in their Stuart Weitzman’s and their Cole Hahns. Pretty women pause, toss in a quarter, other passersby ignore the guy.

Then along comes a young woman with long dark hair—maybe 26—27. She starts to pass but stops and turns back. Kneeling down in front of the man she gently pulls the sign from his hands, extracts a marker from her backpack and flips his sign over.  As the bewildered man waits, she scrawls a new message on the reverse side and hands the sign back. This is better, she says to him softly, and walks on.

Over the course of the day, eclipsed in U-Tube time, people stream past the blind man as before except nearly everyone stops to put cash in his cup.  Now coins have become dollar bills placed there, with thought, not thrown.  The perplexed man continues to hold up the sign the girl has written, his cup nearly full.

As shadows lengthen, the girl stops again and when she speaks to him, the man recognizes her voice. “What does it say?” he asks helplessly, confused by his new success. She responds, “It says what you said, only better.”

As the camera pans out, the sign becomes visible.  The girl has written, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.”

Words change everything. Perspective, luck, energy, desire and vision.

Last month I had one of those circle- of-friends candle-holders on my coffee table, only the “friends” were 3 elves, facing each other in a circle, their little backs to the observer, holding hands around a lit votive. As I moved them to put a pizza down I mentioned to my friend Rick that the little guys looked as if they were circled around the glow of a burning log in a cold forest. Rick, whose job description includes words like “covert” “Pentagon” and “flight schedule” said, “Yeah? I think they’re hiding something.”

Perspective.

My three kids live all over the world. Everyone feels sorry for me. I feel sorry for me too. I haven’t seen my son in over a year. Until Christmas I hadn’t seen one of my daughters in a year as well. And it will be Thanksgiving before I see my youngest. But they are happy taking the London tube to work, surfing off the coast of New Zealand, riding a street car to the French quarter to hear music on a Saturday night.

Only one of the people I love is on the same continent, only two are in the same hemisphere, none are in the same time zone. But words change everything.

They are spectacularly independent. They call home often. They live in places that are great to visit.

It’s a beautiful day. And I can see it.

Write a page about seeing something differently from everyone else. Write about someone whose perspective is not reality—purposely or just because he or she is in denial.  Write about someone whose perspective is off because they are old, (these canned peas are delicious!) or very young (yay, there’s no electricity!) —or about someone in love who simply misinterprets what he sees.

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