Closing Eyes, Seeing More

Every day I walk by the lake. I notice it more than most- a function of my elite training as a member of Earth Lodge and a love of the outdoors developed over my first nineteen years. I notice its level by the exposed bank on a hole of the disc golf course, I see it as more than an opportunity for a snapchat story, and I sometimes pick up trash when I see it. However, all of these observations focus on sight. It’s easy to see the lake, and slightly different to “see” it, just as hearing differs from listening. I want to move in the spectrum from hearing, past listening, and toward understanding by focusing on other senses besides sight. As Frank Herbert says in his novel Dune, “If you rely only on your eyes, your other senses weaken”. To that end, I decided to write my reflection during the night. The light of my laptop, conspiring with me, helps to completely blind me to the sights of the riparian zone surrounding the beech against which I lean. I’m going to close my laptop, close my eyes, and open my senses. Here goes.

Cicadas rule the airwaves. Occasionally, a bird will chirp as it scatters dry leaves. More rarely, an acorn will fall into the lake, a distraction from the white noise of insects. More insipid is the static of cars racing by. People could see me here, if they looked. They don’t. The tree against my back reminds me of Oregon, when we *a fish splashes in the lake behind me*all took 20 minutes alone to reflect at the bottom of a trail in the HJA . Then, I had trouble appreciating the forest because I expected something magical, something unnatural, but what I saw was wholly natural. Now, I have the opposite problem. I’m trying to isolate the natural of this place, and all I can focus on is the cars going by, the light from the bridge the people walking by, the laptop’s fan, the phone in my pocket. I guess I didn’t learn that much from William Cronon after all.

I’m trying not to be disappointed. I couldn’t help but hope for an Eragon-like awareness of the forest, where I was suddenly flooded by all the consciousness around me. But this isn’t Ellesméra, and I’m not a rider. I’ll just have to keep on returning, noticing a little more every time.

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One Response to Closing Eyes, Seeing More

  1. TRL says:

    Fantastic idea. The contrast between your expectations and the reality in the Oregon old growth and here at the lake are illuminating. In addition to shutting your eyes, it’s an interesting activity to visit different places on campus just to see how dark it can get; there is a surprising amount of light pollution. I don’t know if you got a chance to walk around at night at the HJA, just a little off compound, but the darkness there is also striking.

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