Wednesday, February 06, 2013


People almost always blink once when they are surprised, an involuntary reaction that belies whatever supposed calm is on their face. Hit someone with a startling bit of news and watch for the single blink, the tell that they cannot believe their eyes.

It is not always pleasant to witness. Not long ago I mentioned something to a friend, a bit of gossip that was too absurd to be true, and when I saw my friend blink (it was almost a wince) I felt my heart's elevator fall a few stories to my stomach. I should not have been surprised at the reaction. But you know me; I have tended to trust too much. It's what optimists do. We want to see flowers in the weeds; we want to keep hope alive.

None of that has changed, despite slight adjustments here and there in my life. I still think there is honor in patience. I still do my best to believe in the better angels of humanity, even when those angels lapse into decidedly shitty behavior.

One thing has changed. I do not blink.

I never did a lot of it, true. The average person blinks about 15 times a minute. I do about three blinks a minute, fewer if it's not too cold. Some people think I'm staring. Most times, I'm not.

But now that I'm in the abyss, with a lifetime of tests ahead, I am no longer surprised, and I own a pair of eyes that can't be startled. I saw the abyss coming. I watched myself thrown into it. Part of me even helped do the tossing. I'm acclimated to the shadows, so I can see in the dark now. I still trust and hold hope. I'm just not startled when hope is crushed and trust is shattered. The only thing that could surprise me is a return to the sunshine, and there's no need to worry about that. Marina may not be a robot, but I am. And robots never blink.

No comments: