The Secret of Interpretation

The secret is simple. Are you ready for this?
The secret of interpretation is there is no secret at all. I see what I see and you see what you see and no matter how we compare or relate, neither of us can fully prove that what we see are the same things.
I don’t know what blue looks like to you. I don’t know whether you relate to the coming of dawn and the colors of an autumn sky in the suburbs, about 45 miles east of New York City.

I wonder what a person who never met me but followed my entries would think my voice sounds like. I wonder what their internal narrative might sound like. Would this be their interpretation of what they believe my voice would sound like? Who knows?

Someone once told me they picture me writing in a room with an ashtray by my side, filled with crushed cigarette butts and perhaps there’s a lit cigarette in the ashtray with a twirling pillar of smoke rising up to the ceiling. I assume they envisioned books on shelves. Perhaps they envision me in some sort of man cave or home office. But the truth is, I don’t know what they see.
Am I me in this picture? Or, am I their version of me, long haired and mad with a white t-shirt and a vest on, facing my typewriter and banging at it like an angry pianist, looking to recreate Mozart or Beethoven. The thing is, I don’t smoke. My so-called office is a loft. My desk is not typical (nor am I) but still, this is an excellent example of interpretation.

It is apparent to me that the images we see are unique to the mind. For example, the written word or more to the point, the written descriptions and the dialect, the accent and the true grit of one’s expression is unique to interpretation.

There is only text here. There are only letters on the page and in the realm of imagination; all else is left open to interpretation, which can be uncomfortable at times. I say this is especially true when meeting someone who wants to tell me what I’m “trying” to say.

I receive messages sometimes. Not often, but on occasion, I receive messages from people that tell me about my writing. Not all of what I receive is good. But it’s not all bad either.
They tell me about what I’m trying to say. They tell me what they think I mean and sometimes, these messages are close to the mark. Other times, the opinion is way off target.
Sometimes, people send messages to tell me that I’m wrong or that I don’t know what I’m talking about, which is fine with me. because to me – they’re wrong and it’s them who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. However, most of the messages are caring and endearing. They come from people who understand the details of an imperfect life.

I used to receive messages from people who can relate. They’d come from people who want me to tell their story, which I seldom do, which is not to say that I don’t care or regard them. But more; I am cautious of misinterpretation and since I might see (or feel) something different – I don’t want to recreate something and be off the mark. I don’t want to re-tell someone’s story and be faulted due to my bias or assumptions.

One note I can never forget is something that came from an older woman. She was covered in tattoos. A real gypsy of the road, a trucker, a warm, kindhearted woman with a past that was hard to live through. Yet, she did.
She lived through her life much like we all do. Like it or not, happy or not and whether we think we are strong or weak, there are times we grow tired from having to be strong.
We are all strong. We all endure. Each day above the dirt, we endure – even when we think we’re not; we are.

I wrote a poem for this woman. I shared this with her, openly, and hoped that what I wrote was accurate. She told me that it was on the mark but then again; she saw my words through her eyes. And more, she saw my words through the eyes of a child who was hidden in a closet or beneath a bed, afraid, scared of being beaten or touched or hurt.
This is how she saw my words. But truthfully, I saw her in my version of a little girl, playing with dolls, whispering and telling them how Mommy is sleeping again. And we can’t wake her up. Otherwise, Mommy will be mad again.

There are things that we see in life. Once we see them, it seems as if we can never not see them again. Perhaps, this is why I regard vision and use analogies.
I try to associate light with color or the absence thereof. I try to relate touch to a common feeling; like, say, my association with a spring morning beneath a new sky – and the wind sweeps through to lift my hair. What does that look like to you?
The truth is, I’ll never know.

I can say this and as an exercise, I’d like you to imagine this.
Imagine me, standing in front of my childhood home. I am grown and the home has since been sold more than three times over. The street is empty. No cars are on the road. The morning is quiet. It is early. The sun is rising in a clear, unblemished sky.
I am standing with my back to the street, facing my house and looking up to the rooftop to envision myself as I was when I was a kid, young and confused. I used to sit on the rooftop when I was a kid.
I used to sit and think and look out at the rooftops of my town. I would wonder if anyone ever thought about the things I thought about. I would sit there and wonder if I would ever be “normal” or if I would always be me, as I was.
Imagine me as an older man, looking at the home as if to have x-ray vision. I could see the inside of my home as it was when I was a child. I can see where my bedroom was and how the bed was in the corner of the room. There were posters on the walls. I had hardwood floors. I had a closet. I had a few drawers. I had a stereo system. I had some hidden holes in the wall where I’d hide my stash and the different tools of my trade, so-to-speak. This is where i kept my pipes and my flask and my other necessities, which kept me sick (and crazy).

My town was suburban, somewhat small and mainly crazy. Most of the homes were middle income. Most of the lawns were mowed with bushes and flowers. No one was exceptionally rich or poor.

I am standing in the whereabouts of my young life envisioning my town as it was – some of the homes had American flags. Early mornings, cars warmed up in driveways and working people hustled their way to their cars with a travel mug in hand, steaming with hot coffee for them to drink on their ride to work. 

I am standing there and in my mind’s eye, I can see me this way.
Think about this. Picture it and let me ask you this.
What do I look like?
What does my inner voice sound like?
Is my hair long or short?
Was my home on a main street or a side street?
If you were able to picture this, what color was my childhood home?
Was it white on a main street, otherwise known as Merrick Avenue?

When I offered a description of my room; what color were the walls in your imagination?
What did I look like in your mind when you were picturing me, sitting on the roof of my home, and which direction was I facing? 

I can write a million things and be as accurate as possible yet no one will ever see what I see nor will anyone see what you see, which is why I love the written word.
This is why I love making people think and work for their visions. 

I love the romance of a word. I love the fact that a word can make you think, remember, feel, understand, or if nothing else, I love how words come together enough to entertain the mind and allow for a picture of something that will otherwise, remain unseen.

I have listened to people tell me about what I’m trying to say. I used to be upset with this. Now, I just listen. I try not to get offended. More importantly, I try not to invest in things which are beyond my control. 

But sometimes, a message comes from someone who tells me where they’re at. They tell me what they’re going through. It’s not that I can do anything more than listen; however, there is an honor to this. Or, a reward.

There is something about being real and true. Beyond this, there is something rewarding about being authentic and disregarding the crowd or the need to “sound good”
There is a true gift when refusing to be someone who we’re not.
There is a compliment from the universe when someone approaches and says hey, I need to tell you something. Moreover, there is a an absolute warmth when this is who you are to someone and because of this, they love you, totally and wholeheartedly.

I put my heart out to the universe. And sometimes this feels lonely, like screaming in an open auditorium where the audience is gone and all their is are empty seats – laughing at me.
Sometimes, life comes back in return. Sometimes the words “me too” are enough to let me know there is love for me and no matter what we see or how we see it, no one is ever alone.
At least not us.


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