The Art of Being Invisible

There is a lightness – being invisible – as though you could float and fly and dream your way through it all without feeling the weight of your own feet upon the pavement. You can be separate from the pulse and the beat of the city, and dance to your own tune. In particular, the art of being invisible is to enjoy the ability to observe and notice what is rare and unusual out there in the streets, markets and everyday corners of the world. At other times in my life, when being seen seemed to matter to me, I may have been too busy being noticed to notice all these little details, and I am only now realising how much I missed.

This could all be a story of passivity and loss of agency; a story of being missed-out, overlooked, ignored and left out, or then again it could be a story of learning to fly and defy gravity in so many ways. It’s a fine line. The feeling that it is impossible to change things, that you have no voice, no power, no visibility in life, is very common. It seems to be particularly common among women. Women who are over ‘a certain age’, women who are ‘overweight’, women who are mothers, women who are good, ordinary, competent, professional people trying for promotion at work in a profession dominated by men. Invisibility can be a condition experienced by the poor, the sick, the lonely.

Maybe everybody feels that they have become invisible at some point in their lives. Just walking along a busy street in any city at certain times of day or night, will give you a glimpse of the invisible realms. Perhaps it is also a peculiarly urban phenomena. To some extent the digital age has provided a platform for some people to address this issue for themselves. Where they may feel invisible on the streets, they may stand out on the ‘web’.

Sometimes you wish you could be invisible, and you stick out like a sore thumb, and other times you want to stand up, be noticed, and count for something, and yet you find that there seems to be a sheet of some kind of ‘one-way glass’ separating you from the rest of the world. You can see it all, but they can’t see you.

This site is just an exploration of these ideas: a reaction to an experience that has changed my life. It is a dance with words to articulate something of this idea, and to embrace the potential magic of invisibility. After all – a cloak that bestows invisibility upon the wearer is not only a modern idea, which J. K. Rowling made such good use of in the Harry Potter stories. The concept of invisibility cloaks, and other items, has popped up in Greek myth, folklore and fairy stories here and there across the ages, and it is, of course, the stuff of science fiction and the dream of the future.

Not to mention, naturally, the other famous invisible woman (!) created in 1961 by Stan Lee for Marvel Comics: one of the Fantastic Four, she was Susan Storm until she called upon her superpowers and became Invisible Woman. Interestingly, her powers of invisibility were balanced with special force-fields which were pretty much ‘impenetrable’. The idea that if you are not seen, nothing can get to you, is key to embracing the potential of being invisible. It’s not true in real life, of course. Or is it?

There is freedom and power in invisibility. There are possibilities within the change of position and therefore perspective that it brings. To mis-paraphrase a pretty good writer: “Be not afraid of invisibility: some are born invisible, some achieve invisibility, and some have invisibility thrust upon them”. Leaving my own country (UK) and arriving in a completely different culture (Russia) was just one experience in my life which ‘thrust’ the state of invisibility upon me. It has inevitably changed me, and for what it has taken away from me, other things have been given. If invisibility can be either powerlessness, or a new superpower, (assuming that we’re allowed to choose) then I choose the superpowers: I choose super-vision, and I choose to fly.

2 thoughts on “The Art of Being Invisible

  1. sarah –

    hi there. thanks for the comment on my site (impressions of an expat). please contact me – i have something to discuss that you may find quite interesting.

    best –


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