No one has written more powerfully about becoming invisible, a walking ghost, then Ralph Ellison. In Invisible Man his angry protagonist says, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me."
The marginalized millions of the world understand. They live lives of being ignored to the point of not being seen at all.
Among this group are the legions of people who have become invisible because of their apparel. Put on a prison uniform, a patient gown or shabby clothes. That is all it takes to blind the majority to your existence.
The author of a recent magazine article tells of her experience in a store she regularly patronizes. Having forgotten something she re-approached the cashier. The woman had forgotten her.
"Perhaps, because of my age I am now invisible," the woman wrote. This was happening, she believes, because she was old and thus irrelevant. She also wrote that this experience was teaching her that she no longer needed to be a high achiever. Living an "ordinary life" was becoming appealing.
The famous know this phenomenon. They seek notoriety & then long for invisibility in their everday lives.
Where is the happy medium? We cannot find it by keying our self worth to other's opinions. Yet, we still need some affirmation that we exist.
In short, we need to love and feel loved.
Jesus showed us a way by how he honored the ignored ones. The medium, happy or not, lives on this branch of Love's tree.
As Ellison writes, “Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?”
Perhaps, this voice also speaks for the highest beauty of all - the beauty that is invisible to the eye.
-Rev. Erie Chapman
Two other transcendent quotes by Ellison:
What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.
Photograph by Erie Chapman