I’ve started paying attention to my other hand.
It comes and goes, my ability to observe, and eventually I know I’ll forget to. Becoming aware of things outside my usual field of vision is like stumbling across the method by which I might regularly experience a lucid dream. Suddenly it’s easy, and I’m having them every night. Then, inevitably, there is the lapse, and I find myself caught up in a night’s intricate fiction… and my lucid dreaming seems at an end.
But for now I have the knack.
The arrow always fits precisely into the wound it makes, according to Kafka. And so it is that I fit into my life, and what I see is governed by those things I’m predisposed to seeing. But am I affected only by those things? How could it be any other way? And yet there are ways one might catch a brief glimpse of the world outside. An accident happens–I trip over the cat and gain a view of the underside of my bed that would not otherwise have sought. Why, there’s that drawing I made in grade three, shoved up into the box spring’s torn lining. And so it’s a happy accident, but who am I now that I’ve made it outside? If I am my point of view then I can’t be certain I am who I think I am.
I think it’s safe to say that most of what’s going on is beyond our perception, unless we’re falling down stairs or being shot at constantly. Being that such days as those are well behind me, I must rely on other means to affect an expanded awareness. Triggers, if you will, to remind me to look for the things invisible to me.
When I hear the word “gales” I immediately face the opposite direction–turning my back on my proper life and facing instead the invisible. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen behind my intended world. There is a grace in the motion of things there, and the light casts a particularly warm glow. But it is a fleeting vision–soon the enchantment must die for being witnessed, all except for a vague impression. When seeing what you should not see, the trick is knowing what to see.
When I see something red next to something yellow I remember to ask a stranger a question. It can be any question, as long as it’s presented eloquently, and is compelling, humorous, and self-effacing. I’ve always had a facility with conversation anyway, but my conversations with familiars have never been as sweet as those I’ve held with complete strangers. Everything they tell me is a secret, and the bond of trust is implicit. People glow when they tell me their stories, and I can often wander away without their taking any notice at all.
And when I shave in the morning and think of my step uncle, long dead of AIDS–and this happens more frequently than you might expect–I am reminded to look at my other hand. The idle hand. Here is an emissary from the hidden world as close as it can be. While one hand conducts the shave, this other is a frozen spider stirring from dormancy only to twist in sympathy as I maneuver around the contours of my chin. But, having become aware of my other hand, I can now feel the tendons pulling muscles to maintain its position – the energy it takes to keep my hand locked in that position. This other hand of mine is not performing any necessary function like the beating of my heart, yet its choreography is driven by a hidden part of myself.
Eventually I know that I will forget to remember this–may even lose the ability to do so–but for now there are two of us, and we live in two worlds, side by side.