Wednesday Vignette – unseeing the seen

Last week, while on my way home from work, I saw a guy shooting up under one of the freeway overpasses. Granted, I was flying by at high speed, but even so – I can’t even describe the horror I felt seeing him shove a needle in his arm. A totally random event of lives passing each other – I’m pretty sure our split second encounter had greater impact on me than on him. In fact, I doubt he even noticed my startled stare – he was too busy desperately trying to heal himself, so he could feel whole again.

Every time I have driven by that spot in the days since, I have looked for him. It’s so strange – the most startling experiences really change the way we perceive locations. It’s like they are forever marked, and automatically induce heightened expectation and awareness. I haven’t seen him since, but I see his camp. Some trash, and his sleeping bag. Once it was neatly rolled up, another time it was unrolled. I wondered if he was in it. I wondered if he was alive.

I’ve been trying to forget what I saw. But, of course I can’t. Over the years, I have had a few friends and acquaintances die from overdoses. But, I never actually saw them as real junkies, reduced to a desperate, vulnerable, quivering mess of self-injection. I’m sure they reached that point – I just never had to see it. Once again, it made me think of the bubbles we live in. And, as an extension of that, the bubbles we encase others in. On this occasion the “other’s” bubble shredded, and accidentally let me see into it. I’ve been trying to un-see it ever since – to no avail.

Crinkled flax leaf

I took this photo right before I went home that afternoon. I was so enamored with the way this NZ flax leaf was all crinkled, I decided right there and then that it was going to be my next Vignette shot. In the context of my story, I guess its only significance is that it represents what I let into my protected bubble – things that make me happy. Meanwhile, I’m painfully aware that the orb of humanity’s most exposed looms far larger, and that after the shocking glimpse I got of it, I needed something pretty to focus my violated eyes upon. So there you go, good people – some frivolous eye candy to divert your attention from the real issues. (I wonder how many of these it will take to erase the stark image of intense frailty and relinquishing of all control, I just saw…)

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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24 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – unseeing the seen

  1. A profound post, Anna

  2. FlowerAlley says:

    You have gifts in perceiving and expressing. I am so thankful I found your blog and so grateful that you share your thoughts so openly. Thank you again, Anna.

  3. Alison says:

    I’m hesitant to post a link to my whimsical WV post, after reading your thoughts on this experience. I’ve had a few like that in my lifetime, images that have stuck with me, even 40 years later. Anyway, here’s my post:

  4. To my mind your photo really does illustrate your point. Those defined stripes our pathways in life, then we hit the roller coaster bits and everything is jumbled and tossed around. Some people end up worse off, others (through mostly only sheer luck and the grace of god) do not.

    Just another fun garden shot for my WV:

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh, that’s a good way to see it, Loree – a way that completely passed me by before you pointed it out. Thanks for making my words make more sense with the photo. Bumps (or more so, sink holes) in our roads – I love it!

  5. Eve says:

    Yes, I too noticed the connection Loree mentions above… the compression of energy, the first wavy signs of chaos, the smooth path suddenly becoming unnavigable… Not an unrelated image of eye candy at all…

  6. rickii says:

    Would that the powers that be were less adept at “unseeing”.

  7. Thank you for another thoughtful post, Anna. Nature offers us the beauty we need to move through a world that can be very ugly, with misery and unhappiness that often seems beyond our control. I’ve lived with the results of drug and alcohol abuse within my own family and, even with resources to provide help, it’s a bumpy road but I think that “seeing” is the required first step.

  8. Evan says:

    A disturbing sight, to be sure. I like Loree’s interpretation of your photo. Not unrelated at all. I didn’t try for anything philosophical this week. The beauty of the natural scenery I was surrounded by was more profound than anything I could come up with.

  9. I am impressed with your willingness to see what’s going on around you, painful though it be.
    Then you find comfort in nature and the reassurance of the permanent things that continually change. Thanks you. There are so many things in life that I cannot control but when I see a beautiful thing growing it gives me courage.

  10. Peter Herpst says:

    Haunting word image! Thank you for your amazing Wednesday Vignettes. My post can be found here:

  11. annamadeit says:

    You’re welcome, Peter! Hope you have something pretty for me to see – I need it! 🙂

  12. The picture is beautiful but the prose is sad. We live in a world that creates pain at every opportunity and we’re required to steel ourselves against it. It’s tragic when that steel takes the form of a needle.

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