Welcome to day 29 of 31 Days of Apocalypse, Now, a month of posts about apocalypse, revelation, uncovering what’s been hidden. Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may only peripherally seem related. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportsmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.” ― John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, The beauties of nature and the wonders of the world we live in (1892)
I may have mentioned already that I like to take walks along the same trails, in the same woods, on the same beach, on the same city and town streets, and look for different things.
One day some lines from the Kelly Clarkson song, “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” ran through my head:
“Now I can’t breathe
No, I can’t sleep
I’m barely hanging on
Here I am
I’m torn into pieces
Can’t deny it
Can’t pretend …
I’m barely hanging on”
So I looked for things that were barely hanging on, on every trail I walked for a while.
Or the Pink song, “Just Give Me a Reason,” and the phrase “We’re not broken, just bent,” and looking for bent or bowed over things.
Sometimes I’m unaware I’m looking for anything particular, but as Lubbock writes, botanists see flowers, artists see colouring, and it’s hard not to notice what you’re looking for, even when you don’t know you’re looking for it. That’s one reason I look for other things, like what’s hanging on or what’s bent but not broken, to heighten my awareness for what I might normally miss, to be alert for what I’m ordinarily blind (or deaf) to. Sometimes while walking, I stop and do a 360 turn, scanning for … anything: Bears, coyotes, small birds, something obvious against the landscape, something hidden in the foliage. Something I may have missed with my habitual filters and blinders.
It’s funny how often you can have a pattern in your mind, of a stinkhorn mushroom, hepatica, rattlesnake plantain leaves, a snake, a kinglet, and suddenly you see it, because the pattern in the world matches the pattern in your imagination and they somehow click together.
And maybe one reason, besides sheer desire, that the pattern exists in your mind is because intuitively you’re attune to the air temperature and pressure, the terrain, the habitat, the recent rain or dryness, a sound you didn’t realise you’d heard, and so on. If you spend enough time in one place — in woods, garden, beach, cityscape — you come to know when conditions are right for particular phenomena, and then, pattern in mind, it’s easy to see what’s likely to be there when you come across it.
But it’s also fun to startle your mind, to look for what’s unrelated to the habitat or terrain, something incidental to an environment. You can play that game on city and town streets, in a car, from a hospital room, at work, anywhere there might be something barely hanging on, for instance. Or something spiral, checkered, velvety, orange, striated, feathery, angular. Look for thresholds, intrusions, damage, healing, concealment, dancing. The “crack in everything” (“that’s how the light gets in”). Ghosts. Orphans. Crossings. Heart-Shaped. All the colours of the rainbow. Black and blue.
Another favourite way to look: for things that look like other things, especially things that look like snakes.
None of these is a snake.
This is not a slug (it’s fungal, and there’s an insect on it):
This is not a small skull, but driftwood:
Not an avocado!
Wherever you find yourself, try looking for something in particular. See what you see.