So I just had a bit of a revelation. At first I was pondering how the most fascinating things appear to be deep in the ocean and deep in outer space, the two most inaccessible places for human beings. I then put myself in the place of a creature from those places, to try to view the land from their standpoint. The truth is, everything around us, no matter how near or how far, is positively astounding. Everything is beautiful, but, for multiple reasons, many of us do not realize the beauty that surrounds us. First, we are so accustomed to seeing our immediate surroundings that we often take for granted the beauty that they possess. After all, according to the human brain, the more plentiful an object, the lesser of value it is. Secondly, since we go about our daily lives in these surroundings, it is not often that we take the time, as a foreigner would, to appreciate the beauty of what we see so often. In other words, if we were in an unfamiliar setting, we would be in awe at the beauty of our surroundings, (unlike anything we’ve ever seen before). But because we don’t often look at the details of our usual settings, we often don’t see the beauty that so plainly surrounds us. Imagine how an alien would feel gazing at the formidable trunk of a tree, with its mighty protruding branches that sway in the wind. Imagine how they would feel seeing the sun’s rays projected off the surface of the clouds, the grass, the graceful stone curvature of a modern building. How would they respond to the sunlight dancing back into their eyes with every color in the visible light spectrum? Imagine how they would feel watching a tsunami, or witnessing the power of a hydrogen bomb… Imagine how they would feel seeing a tornado or an electrical storm, seeing the beauty and the power of the sky; imagine how they would feel gazing into the clear, crisp ocean, feeling its shimmering currents splash refreshment against their skin…
The Earth is more beautiful than we realize, and we must become in tune with its beauty in order to realize our own. Open your eyes! See the beauty you inhabit! Only then will you be able to feel the beauty that you are.
This is what I do at Science Olympiad competitions while I'm not competing.
Sharpie, highlighter, and pen on printer paper. March 2011.
Yes, I know it was an apple tree. In fact, I'm not quite sure how this evolved to become what you now see. At a Science Olympiad competition while I was currently unoccupied I began to doodle the pair of cherries that grace the center of the page. From there, my thoughts wandered, and this sharpie-highlighter-pen-produced amalgamation of thought was the result of my tangential thinking.
And yes, I also know that the man is lacking a certain essential male appendage. I didn't feel like drawing it.
The central problem with the educational system (from a personal standpoint) is that it assumes itself to be the sole provider of knowledge in a student’s life. Students lean on school to teach them all they need to know, when in fact, true knowledge comes from exploring the boundaries of one’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and literary world. Only can a person learn to truly learn when they first discover what they are drawn to: the knowledge their minds, bodies, and souls wish to expand upon. When you learn what you love, you will truly experience the sensation of possessing a knowledge that your body understands and wants to delve into by integrating its (and your) most essential beliefs. This is learning. This is knowledge. Above all, this is what shows you Truth inside of you.
What is there to say that what we are experiencing as Life is not perfect? Only our expectations deem what is real as imperfect, as a construct other than that which we believe was meant to be, which, in reality, is in itself a construct only of our superficial minds. Only when you remove yourself from the future, erase memory of the past, and hone in on the Now, will your expectations be superseded by all that Life has to offer us. We will take its offers as the fruit of the Now and allow them to ripen and fulfill their purpose as we welcome and nourish them full-heartedly. Discipline your mind. Reject excitement, anticipation; leave behind daydreaming and hypothesizing. Instead, allow Life to unfold before you; allow the perfection of its paradoxical nature to amaze you, invigorate you, and rejuvenate you with each and every of Life’s occurrences that so beseech you to take them in and to Love them. Allow your body’s mind to appreciate their perfection, for only the Essence of your being has the deepest, most profound understanding of all that surrounds you in Life. Love Everything. Anticipate Nothing. Then will your life be perfect.
Looking back on this picture, I vividly remember the scene it portrays so perfectly. I remember the sensations I experienced before the picture was taken, as well as my ensuing thoughts at the moment the shutter snapped. I was four years old, posing for a mom-endorsed photography session with my one-year-old sister, Shana. It was autumn and the endless expanse of green grass was speckled with fallen leaves of yellow, orange, and brown. I can still remember the soft rays of sunlight dancing through the trees, stopping to perform winding pirouettes on the tips of blades of grass. I can still feel the cool, crisp breeze spiced by the glowing warmth of the sun beating on my ears, my nose, my hands. I can still smell the freshness, the organic scent of falling leaves in autumn tickling my nostrils, renewing me, and teasing me with the excitement of the changing seasons. I can still visualize my mother braiding my soft, damp locks of hair, telling me I will look different in the morning. I can still remember my anticipation of the pure elation I felt would be brought by a difference, brought by a change.I still today can perceive the wonder I felt knowing I looked different for the first time since I could remember, and most vividly of all, I remember stepping outside and being encompassed by nature, by the beauty and wonder of G-d around me. I felt myself melt into my surroundings, and I left my brain for my natural sensations.
Stepping delicately to the little red wagon, I took a deep breath of the full, fall air. This was the very reason why I loved fall so much: the astounding fullness of its air, filled with the scent of biodegrading leaves, and the newly discovered concept of change, seen through the changing colors of leaves. The purely enchanting deepness of autumn just captivated me. The idea that it had so much more to offer, as the leaves slowly gradated their way from green to yellow, yellow to orange, orange to brown, and fell to the ground. This profound concept of change was only complemented by the change in weather as the cool breeze snuck in, the change in the texture of my hair, made braid-wavy for the day, as well as the change in the school year. I would be starting Pre-K at Shipley soon, moving from my preschool at Trinity to a real school. As I pondered these changes, slight jealousy arose for my sister, who had yet to begin preschool, let alone school in general. Nature saved me from dismay, however. I remember vividly feeling the fall air fill me, lift me up, and place me down gently. I felt the deep creases in the leafy hands of trees caress my soul, whispering to me that ‘everything is going to be alright’. They told me silently of their experiences, what turns them green and red, orange and brown, why they slip away from the cold’s strangling embrace and sprout again when warmth tickles their buds. They told me I was special; they saw the kindness in my heart.They said that they would stand by me, even when they slipped away from the cold. They told me they would be there for me, always and forever. I believed them, and the leaves still speak to me today.
As this silent promise was made, quickly and fluidly, my mother was setting up for the photography session and my sister was frolicking in the grass. As my mother called my name, a beam of sunlight washed upon me, trailing over me with its misty veil of light. With my extrasensory awareness system on high drive, I consciously made my way over to the wagon, where my ham-of-a-sister awaited me, as well as the pictures. Dissipating the last tinge of jealousy, I sat down in the cold, hard wagon and let my legs share their warmth with its thin, steel skeleton. I put my arm around my baby sister and held her close, kissed her on the eye, and told her I love her. It was this beautiful and spiritually empowering moment that was frozen in time forever, captured by a swift movement of my mother’s hand with the icy lens of a camera.
Even now I can associate the open, unthinking feeling that so swelled inside me that day with my current philosophies. The feelings and concepts that I perceived have been ever-present in my thinking since that day. In the past, they have been things that I observed diligently, inquisitively. Only more recently have I begun to deeply analyze these observations, and the more I do, the more the story behind this picture ties perfectly into my philosophies.The natural inclination, oneness, and pureness of children fit so naturally, so perfectly together that every time it strikes me I have to stop and marvel at its perfection. At these moments I am half in awe at the unfathomably complicated way in which everything makes sense, and half joyfully unsurprised that G-d and His Providence create such complex perfection. It no longer awes me to see how at peace I was at such a young age; my cogitations have shown me that the peacefulness I so strongly displayed on the day this picture was taken is natural at that age.What I felt that day reminds me that life is an endless struggle to regress to that openness, an endless struggle to once again be aware of life around your body, an endless struggle to live through perceiving the way young children do so beautifully, with no sign of over-thinking or anxiously applied meaning.
This is a picture of a fall scene and a young girl kissing her baby sister in a wagon. What it means to me, however, is very different than its implied significance. When I look at this picture, I am swept back to the events that no one saw. When I see soft lighting on my forehead and my hair, the pure, snowy whiteness of the bow in my hair, I am placed back into the autumn air, back into the glowing sun, and back into my first taste of spiritual discovery. It is not so much the image portrayed in this picture that resonates inside me so strongly, but rather the sensations I discovered prior to the picture’s being taken that facilitated my actions in it. My subconscious discovery of myself, of the trees, and consequentially of G-d set the path for my current philosophies and revealed to me who I was… who I am. This picture reminds me that the power children have to feel, and thus perceive, is the route to happiness because it brings to me the purity and the clarity that I felt so crisply that day. Aside from this, it reminds me of the trees’ message to me; the message the gently rattling leaves so gracefully told me: I am special. The delicate kiss on my sister’s eye reminds me infallibly of the love one is able to share with another, of the power one has to spread happiness, to induce a gently tugging smile on the faces of those around them. Like the trees, it reminds me that I know who I am. This beautiful picture, the warmly pulsating feeling of love it brings to me, and the story of my first taste of self-discovery remind me that as long as I have the power to love, my life will never be worthless.