by Parrish Preston ’17
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame,
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey
I thought I could see. I have always had 20/20 vision. I wear neither contacts nor spectacles.
It was not until this year that I learned to see into the life of things. In the days when sepia filters stir our dreams more than sunrises, and we check for message tones instead of chickadees, our eyes are too full of motion. Our minds conduct symphonies of discord in our heads. We listen to the maestro of our fear instead of the orchestra of the forest. My eyes are quieted by the harmony of nature and the joy of a smile. When my eyes are quiet, I see the beech wood in the sand, long resting on the shores of Lulu. I hear the knell of Osprey hatchlings. I can sniff the wind through Mangroves. When my feet are quiet, I feel the beds of oysters with silent tread. I can taste the brine dried by the sun, and this is not packaged sea salt.
I paddled atop a manatee while a bald eagle flew overhead. I danced with mosquitoes, and I learned from a wood stork that if you can feel a fish, you can catch a fish. I saw into the Everglades.
I baked pancakes covered in syrup and dirt for breakfast on House Mountain. I rafted among white-cap waves on the Upper Gauley, because rivers are meant to be crossed. I climbed in the New River Gorge, because I was tired of standing on the ground. I exited a plane at 10,000 feet because I wanted to see what birds see.
I will be going to Red Rocks in Nevada, because the West is where the sun sleeps. I will be going to Alaska, because those mountains, too are calling.
I will go wherever my eyes are quiet.
If you have breath and body and blood, anyone can see into the life of things.
And once you see it, you can’t unsee it.
Get Out There
Parrish Preston is a senior Classics major from Nashville, Tennessee. He does not listen to voicemails, so the best way to reach him is at the crag, on the trail, on the river, or at the OC barn. He will be working next year in the Latin department and Outdoor Education program at Woodberry Forest School.
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