the lost man chronicles
closer to nature .54

There's a threshold beyond which there's so much ambiguity that people won't see any structure. This must be the hardest part in creating, to play against too much ambiguity. Things that are seemingly structureless are uninteresting. At the other end of the spectrum, a completely straightforward, obvious statement of fact is not engaging. Interesting-ness increases---human interest increases---as you increase the ambiguity. Things in the world that are really intriguing draw you in. Initially, at least, you're a little uncertain about what you'll see, they're ambiguous. Then the structure is revealed and you begin to see patterns.

Nature induces in each viewer their own experience of perceiving the phenomenon---the vortices or waves or avalanches---on its own terms. Rather than attaching symbolic representation to them, it's the process of emergence that's shared and communicated. That process is, in a deep sense, what pattern discovery, and cognizance are about.

This is analogous to what scientists do. Certainly not all, but a lot of science is basically asking a question of nature. That is what I do when I write. Putting a frame around a system and letting it unfold through its own dynamics. Letting it create the pattern, letting nature sculpt itself to a pattern. Rather than chiseling it myself or painting it into a pattern, I try to let nature be the composer.

Inquisitive thought allows us to focus on the process of pattern discovery: and sometimes see something new, innovative or allow us to extend our vocabulary, to see in a new way something that's perhaps very mundane and even initially boring.

Watching the clouds is a good example. Most of the time, we're just too impatient to sit there and watch, we have so many other things to do. But if you force yourself to do it---just watch one cloud and watch it evolve as it moves across the sky---it's just stunning. You see this thing dissolving at one end and forming at another end. Being created and then dissolving because of larger flows in the atmosphere. A visualization of the wind. It goes from something being totally mundane---"I've seen a million clouds"---to a deeper appreciation---"That is just amazing".

I was at a playground the other day. There was little girl, she must have been a year and a half old, who was taking big handfuls of sand and throwing them onto the slide and just watching it run down. She would just throw the sand and then burst out laughing. She was doing it over and over again. And each time it was just as amazing to her. Then her dad rounded the corner, "Don't throw sand on the slide. The slide isn't for throwing sand on." It just hit me that there are all these miraculous things that we get turned off to as we "grow up." And then decades later, you have to struggle to turn them back on.

Unlearning constraints---getting back to that simple, wonderful naive appreciation of things. What was she seeing? Why the fascination and joy? Perhaps, it's through this simple wonder that children bring us back, closer to nature.


"One day, a few days after the liberation, I walked through the country past flowering meadows, for miles and miles, toward the market town near the camp. Larks rose to the sky and I could hear their joyous song. There was no one to be seen for miles around; there was nothing but the wide earth and sky and the larks' jubilation and the freedom of space. I stopped, looked around, and up to the sky--and then I went down on my knees. At that moment there was very little I knew of myself or of the world--I had but one sentence in mind--always the same: "I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and He answered me in the freedom of space.

How long I knelt there and repeated this sentence memory can no longer recall. But I know that on that day, in that hour, my new life started. Step for step I progressed, until I again became a human being."

~ Man's Search of Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl

For there is no guarantee that you will always savor happiness. For should you choose to jump while everyone else cowers, you may very well fall. But the beauty and the saving grace of your daring is that you know that you are willing and quickly ready to get back up and try again.

And quite often the renewal of your initiative is merely a matter of shrugging off the disapproval, the envy and the jealousy of others who have succumbed to the notion that they are simply pawns.

It is a shame and a sham to think that you are anything other than the queen of your own game. You are not an subservient lamb. Just dream, be aware, dare and you shall become.

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