My Sovereign Sky

When I am alone with the sky, when I look up toward the stars  or the clouds and abandon awareness of earth and its inhabitants, the firmament is mine. Or perhaps I am its sole subject, beholden only to its sovereignty. We have a symbiotic relationship, the sky and I. We feed each other’s sense of wonder at the fragility and supremacy of the other, marveling at how such magnificence can exist so close to the edge of irrelevance and obscurity.

For each thought, there is an opposite—an absence of that thought. Together, the thought and its absence are invisible, unthinkable, empty. Without the absence of thought, there can be no opposite, so no thought to counter its absence. You cannot see that emptiness, nor can you even think of it, because it is not there. Surely you can understand that, can’t you? Or is that understanding a private one, a logic shared only between my sovereign sky and me?

For every inflation, there is an equal and opposite deflation, for every truth, there is an equal and opposite lie, for every tree taking space in the air, there is space in the air searching for the absence of a tree. My logic is irrefutable, though possibly inscrutable, except in my eyes and in the absence of eyes of my sovereign sky. Because the sky has no eyes. Yet the sky and I play with one another the way puppies run in their sleep, chasing dreams invisible to you and me but vivid to the puppies.

You and I may share the same sky, but I cannot share my sovereign sky with anyone because it’s not mine to share. My sovereign sky is as real as my imagination, but as imaginary as your sky is to me. I cannot see through your eyes and you cannot see through mine, except to the extent that I permit, through my words, and you permit through yours. But what if our words meant different things to one another? What if the word “goat” conjures in your eyes an image of an animal that, to me, corresponds to an image of  the word “dog,” that in my mind’s eye conjures an image of what the word “kangaroo” means to you? That’s why I cannot share my sovereign sky with you. And it’s not mine to share.

There’s a memory in your head, a memory of looking at clouds in the sky and imagining what those clouds were. You saw dogs, cats, an old man’s face, a car transforming into a bicycle. I saw the same sky, but I didn’t see your dogs, cats, old men, cars, and bicycles. My sovereign sky held its own menagerie. It still does.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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