Thursday, October 11, 2018

Observation Thine

Sitting at my window I watch the background of trees, their leaves glistening. The maple tree to the northwest catches my attention. Each leaf is a dark green paw reaching out for sunlight to convert solar energy into food. In a mysterious sequence a dozen leaves among hundreds signal me. In rapid succession one by one each star-shaped form droops a couple inches, turns a darker shade of green, and then quickly returns to its starting position.

For a minute I imagine what message Gaia, spirit of the Earth, is sending me. Perhaps, a story of ancient natural forces forging the landscape over eons or a warning of environmental disaster coming my way that will permit me to save hundreds of lives. Ah, 'tis a magical moment to be sure.

Then I take a step back from my speculative fantasy and chuckle. The drops of rain that give all the greenery a glisten are of course being pulled by gravity earthward. Along its path the water's weight presses the leaves down momentarily. Gradually, the translucent liquid finds its way to the ground pooling on the grass and adjacent concrete patio. And then a fresh flourish of rain begins the pattern anew.

Our interaction with the world begins with our senses. How naturally we build stories to explain those observations. Tales of childhood magic compete with more practical science lessons. Fiction and fact, pure and simple? Arguably, both views bring insight yet both are incomplete.

Perhaps there is no need to discard either interpretation entirely, so long as we recognize where fantasy transitions to a more factual beginning. Indeed, the fiction might inspire the writing of a nature poem, or the misguided outcry that the world is ending. The factual might encourage one to plan a wild meadow or to grimly recall doldrums in an uninspiringly taught Biology 101.

Of course there are many reactions one might take after most any observation. Sadly, the observation act itself is an active experience we too often shrug off before moving on to something else more pressing or previously scheduled.

For a change, pause and consider closely your next glimpse, sniff, sensation x, y and z both together and separate. Meditate and contemplate, muse and synthesize, and without reservation, enjoy!

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