Wednesday, February 06, 2013

EYES THAT DO NOT BLINK

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.

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