Things Seen and Unseen

There is a point in life at which paths diverge and both of you see different things, follow different trails, turn into different people for a time, meeting up now and again to tell each other what you saw and walk together again for a while. Both sometimes, you go on and someone else stops, wearily stumbling along the trail before sitting down and not going any further ever again. There is perhaps a moment where both of your worlds are still in synchrony and everything in fine, and then there is the jarring awareness — you have chosen different paths and one of them ended, and there is no friendly face or voice on the other trail through the woods, you will never meet again, there is just silence, not even birdsong or the quiet, indescribable sound of trees putting down roots and leaves unfurling and mushrooms popping up.

There is just stillness, and then as if someone has shifted a gear, everything creaks back into motion and you are back where you were before, but with an acute awareness, a knowledge that no matter which path you travel and how much you unwind and return and amble, you will be seeing things that someone else will never see, will never have the chance to see, that everything you see is both seen (you) and unseen (them).

The objects whirling past you shift in state, both there and not there, and eventually you learn, painfully, to grow accustomed to it, to align yourself with the knowledge that this precise blooming flower will be seen by only one of you, that this particular wave curls for you alone, that this smell, this meal, this book, this moment laughing among friends, that all of these things are things that only you can experience.

A daffodil in bloom.

This, then, is your future, a place where at one hand you want to relish what lies around you, and at the other, you feel a pain as you see the world reflected in a drop of dew or watch someone cross a bridge alone, thinking of the moment your paths ruptured forever when you turned back and realised that there was no one there, that no one would ever be there. It is an acutely stark and lonely moment, one vulnerable and filled with doubt that you will ever pick up your feet and walk again, but somehow, you do.

First you feel your way from trunk to trunk because it is too dark to see, and then the light slowly trickles in and you catch glimpses of forms around you, and then you feel a strange kind of guilt when you see a flower and delight in it, a sharp bite when you see a niche and think that they — they gone away, they disappearing into the receding past, they covered in wood violets — would like it.

But, somehow, you go on.

Today I remember Adrian Burkey, for he is no longer able to remember himself.