I snapped this picture of Spring Lake about half an hour ago during my evening dog walk with Serena. There is no boat in this photo. Yesterday there would have been: a shiny aluminum rowboat upside down at the far end, barely visible, but irritatingly present. Boats left at our communal (common property) lake here in Spring Lake Estates are supposed to be locked to a cable near the picnic area. That rowboat wasn’t.
Every time I walked around the lake it bothered me to see it beached in a place it shouldn’t have been. In my eyes it was a large chunk of aluminum litter. I didn’t know who it belonged to. I made up a note explaining the neighborhood boat rules (which was within my purview, as I’m the secretary for the neighborhood association board of directors). I duct taped the note to the boat. I also added a mention of the need to move the boat in the board meeting minutes I recently sent out.
So that’s why there is no boat in this photo. But the more interesting question is, “Why is there still a boat in my memory?” I mean, “Why couldn’t I walk around the lake today and just see the lake as it is now, rather than a lake that used to have an aluminum rowboat at one end of it?” Will I ever be able to simply see what is really there, rather than what I want to either add to or subtract from what is really there?
The lake was beautiful this evening. The photo hardly does it justice. The lake was also beautiful yesterday, even with the boat beached where boats shouldn’t be beached. Those words “shouldn’t be” were at the root of my several-month-long mild irritation, the length of time the boat that shouldn’t have been there was there. Every time I saw it, along with what my eyes perceived I also was aware of that feeling, “This shouldn’t be.” But it was. “Shouldn’t be” and “was” warred with each other, Ideal vs. Real.
It’s difficult to decide who I really want to come out on top. I think, Real. But there’s such a strong urge toward Ideal in me, I don’t know if I want to let it go. The ideal situation (there I go again…) I suppose would be to see both Ideal and Real, not letting either one obscure the other. Could I walk around the lake, see the boat that shouldn’t be there, make a mental note to deal with the problem, and then simply calmly see what is really there? No irritation. No frustration. No inner voice saying, “That boat is an eyesore.”
Today I saw on CNN part of the now-famous Iraq decapitation video. Like most everyone else, I couldn’t just see what was shown. In my head I also saw images of what the video stimulated. Me being held hostage instead of the man who was actually killed. Or someone I loved. Fantasies of what should be done to the men who did the killing. Imaginations of what wasn’t shown on TV.
What if I could have just seen what was shown? Would I have been more human than I am now? Less human? The same? Is it good, bad, or indifferent to simply see what is really there, and not also feel that something shouldn’t be there that is there, or that something should be there that isn’t there? Does embracing an Ideal keep us from knowing reality as it is, the Real? Or does it bring us closer to the Real?
I’ve got lots of questions. No answers. That’s real.
[for my own arcane weblog reasons, I need to upload a smaller version of the photo also]