One recent morning a sister brought me a cute little gadget that works sort of like a portable microscope—a flashlight with a strong magnifier on one end and a viewing eyepiece on the other. There’s even a focusing wheel in the middle. Turn on the light, put something interesting up against the magnifier, focus it in and … whoa, where am I?
I looked at the surface of a mint leaf. C’mon, we’ve all seen ’em: green, maybe a little purple, a few veins—that’s about it, right? Wrong.
Oh, so very, very wrong.
Suddenly I was a teeny little observer lost in a vast landscape of bumps and valleys and moisture. I had the distinct feeling that navigating the terrain from valley to valley would take some time and a lot of energy. The thought of trying it was daunting.
No matter what I looked at with this “new eye”—a freshly picked strawberry, a small quartz-crusted rock, a flower petal—I was awakened to something beyond the fascination of getting a better view of a common sight.
“Strawberry” elicits a fairly common image: a round-on-one-end-pointy-on-the-other, red, dotted, tasty thing with a green cap and stem. Best dipped in chocolate.
But that’s not what a million tiny bugs, worms and microorganisms experience. I doubt they ever actually comprehend or see the strawberry that we do. A small dragonfly, with something like 30,000 optical units, perched on a mint leaf does not see what I do, for sure.
So the world that I know and recognize is not the same world that a centipede or flea beetle or dragonfly knows and recognizes. For that matter, it’s not the same world that a rhinocerous knows, either. Seeing is a combination of apprehending, experiencing, recognizing, organizing, and probably a thousand other things I don’t even know about.
While I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that humans are probably not “seen” by the rest of creation as “a human”. Maybe to a garden slug we are a weather pattern, a great tornado that sweeps her off the strawberry and into a happy oblivion of skunked beer. Of course, “weather” probably has no meaning for her either.
Wow. Think like this for awhile and you’ll get dizzy. You may, however, also begin to open up to an entirely new way of “seeing” yourself, a new and fresh comprehension of the creation we share with billions of creatures and many worlds.