Seeing with a Glittering Eye

The inspirational email from OBOD for this week reads:

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. — Roald Dahl

OK Roald, what are you saying? I’ll walk some of the way with you because of your magic. After all, it’s almost part of the definition that creative people have felt it, and pass along a hint of it, even as it slips between their fingers. But wait — belief comes first, and then magic? Seeing is believing, we’ve been told; believing is seeing. But what’s a glittering eye? Well, it seems it’s a useful technique.

Sometimes the world demands it of us — it’s the only option if we want to see at all.

On our return car trip from a Chicago wedding last weekend, we first drove north to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — the UP, home of the “Yoopers” accustomed to delightfully cool summers and long, snowy* winters, nestled among three of the Great Lakes, Superior, Michigan and Huron. (For readers living in other lands, that’s the north central U.S.)


The UP is the area from Gogebic to Chippewa counties.

Here’s the morning sun on the water of Grand Island Harbor, Munising, on the south shore of Superior, where we stayed three nights ago.


The camera manages to capture what a normal human eye can’t look at directly. Only a “glittering eye” can see it — the sun demanded such an eye of anyone who wanted a look. Sometimes the whole world glitters and glimmers — too bright to look at any other way. At such moments it’s easier to admit even if only to oneself that gods must live in fire and shadow.

Or if you want some sort of equivalent in words, that impossible Bardic challenge, try this, courtesy of the 19th century poet Emily Dickinson:

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —


Oh Emily, we know some days how things do “dazzle us gradually” — the passing of time, each season’s gesture of beauty and change, the grace of a moment as it sashays or lumbers past us. Heartache, bittersweet — we can halfway name what it’s like to be alive. Whether or not we opt to honor these moments and seasons with ceremony or any kind of observance, the world’s ways tell their own truths, very far from headlines or gossip or what passes these days for “news.” The only really worthwhile news is always new, always the same, always old, too, and it begins just beyond our noses.  An ancient story.

All it takes, sometimes, is a glittering eye, because the world glitters. Or sometimes an echoing ear, because the world also resounds and reverberates.

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Image: Upper Peninsula.

For a recent (2013) low-key native’s and traveler’s reflection on the UP, go here.

*as much as 300 inches/7.5 meters, according to the article above.

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