When you see the stars
When I was young my mom would take a 3x5 card and poke some holes into it and hand it to me. She then said, “That is the Big Dipper.” We then would go outside and look to the sky to find the Big Dipper. Sometimes it was upside down and at other times it was only the tail near the horizon, but I knew what to look for because of the card. The idea of patterns was at work and so we had several of the cards for the different constellations. Some I have forgotten and some are only in the Northern sky, but they are there, even when I am not looking.
I am older and when I look to the sky at night in my rural home, I have an app on my phone that locates the planets and the stars and the nebula and even the constellations that I didn’t learn as a child. It shows the satellites, and tells about them, the names of the stars and even when they were discovered and by whom. In one way, it is a modern version of the 3x5 card, but to be certain it has made me more lazy about the remembering part of the process. I count on the app and not my brain to do the finding…
There is an interesting thing about the patterns that I discovered some time ago that I was not aware of when I was looking for the patterns. That the pattern and the card that showed it blocked out the stars that were not part of the pattern. I had been missing something that was “right there” the whole time, and I had been looking right past it. It was in plain sight and I didn’t see it at all. There is a scientific reason for this about how the brain works when we are “focused” on something, but as an illustration there was a video about a study that was conducted to reveal this phenomenon. It showed two groups of three people, one with white shirts and one with black shirts and they were going to bounce a basketball and your job was to count the number of passes of the ball. When they stopped, the announcers asked if you had seen the Gorilla? Of course, the answer was no, as you were concentrating on the bouncing ball. They replay the clip and it shows the Gorilla stroll onto the court and beat its chest and stroll off the court. Because the participants didn’t react to the Gorilla you were not alerted to the stranger so you kept counting so you would be correct on the number of passes. This is the same as looking at the “pattern” of the big dipper and missing the stars all around it. We do this… a lot.
In a conversation with a stranger and their friend, I was listening to a story that they were relating and the friend blurts out, “I didn’t know that”, concerning the tale being told. The shock was as if it was somehow a withheld secret that was lurking in the shadows of the relationship and suddenly revealed. She had seen the pattern but not the stars behind and throughout the pattern. We do this. We see and quickly place people in groups, it is a survival thing of the reptilian brain part of us. Some are better at it by training, some by experience, and some are oblivious. Even in the following list it is about groupings; police, lawyers, doctors, accountants, salesmen, managers. Each of these see the same event and yet see it differently because of their discipline and training. We see what we “want to see” as well. It is why the gorilla in the midst is missed. We do this. If you are good at something and see a novice struggling it may be obvious to you, like a teacher watching their pupils learn to spell or write a poem or color in the lines.
We categorize and we miss the idea that we are doing it. Even the list I made is missing and is all white color, a category with a hierarchy, and we miss the stars behind them. The clerk, the nurse, bookkeeper, customer service, janitor. We do it with clothing, vocabulary, missing teeth, hair, cars, amount of rust, part of town… we do this. With the category comes the willingness measurement that we use to act when there is a problem. When to help, listen, hold, accuse, revile, dismiss. It is later that we look at the pattern and reflect that there is revealed additional stars behind the pattern. A story alluded to but not told. A door to a place of “more”, but it was only door not opened, merely shown. Then you wonder what might be behind that door, and if it will open if you turn the knob. All you know is that there is a door, until you ask.
In a conversation with a new friend I asked about the number of children he had and the answer was “Only one. But it took three miscarriages to get that one.” And there it was. The stars behind the pattern, revealed in a moment of vulnerability to a person he thought might be safe enough to share a part of that story. You see, when astronomers look to the stars and wonder what is behind and farther than the stars they see, there are more stars. They needed to send a telescope out into space to see farther, and so the Hubble was sent. But even then, there was a problem with the lens that was used and it needed to be corrected to see more clearly. It is the same with us. Sometimes we see through our own lens, and it needs some adjustment. A correction, to bring clarity to the object in question. We do this, as well. We see with a blurry lens that does not show what is there. The object that looks like a star may be a nebula, to the un-aided eye and it requires some discernment and instruction to know the truth about the shiny blob that we saw. The story behind the star, that we didn’t see because of the pattern that we did. We need to do this.
The other thing that the people who study this stuff have found is that while they are looking for the “big Bang” that started it all, mostly they are looking for the echo of it. A sound, written as a math equation, “seen” by a telescope and that shows up on a monitor as a wave of light. A sound that is a pattern. It is sometimes quiet and often very difficult to find. Perhaps you have forgotten, but the discovery of Hawaii was because a flotilla of ships was sent into the Pacific to get to Tahiti, to measure the time it took for the planet Venus to move across the sky. On the way, Captain Cook found Hawaii. Because of an astronomer wanting to know more. We need to take the trouble to know more about the friends we have and the ones we will make and possibly, to then let them know us better. To discover. To listen. To see. There are stars out there, if we will look. Past the patterns that we know. Past the noise of the local lights in town. To get into the dark to see the lights of the stars that we have been missing.
This takes work. It is a journey of discovery, and at times it is dangerous. You may find things that you didn’t want to know. That may hurt you. Captain Cook sailed on the ship Endeavor. It is a worthy name for our journey as well. To Endeavor to know you better. To venture into the unknown. He named the island chain the Sandwich Isles, in honor of the Earl of Sandwich John Montague, the one that sponsored his trip. We call new disciples Christians, in honor of the one who sent us, Christ. It is a pattern, and we do this… too.
Popular posts from this blog
In Times Like These “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” or so the poet says. Part of the problem that we confront is that we are new to this part of history, so it feels unknown and scary. When you are confronted with the “unknown” it is called chaos, and out of that comes truth and awareness that is new to you. It is found when a child is taken to meet a new friend and they are wary of all that is new. It isn’t new, really, though it may be to the child or to us. This may be the year of the internet millionaire or the Covid small business death, but it is your year. Alone in the way that it is yours, and yet collective in that many can tell the same story. It is the time of our lives. Your story is simply that, your own. From the beginning of your life through the teaching and experiences that brought you too today, it is specific. Good or bad, long or short. Well-seasoned, with history as perspective or simply the musings of the narcissist absorbed with you
Crucible Why is it always a surprise how hot things get and so quickly? Crisis builds slowly and then all of a sudden it is intense and endless. The story is always the same. Things are simply going the way things go, and then three separate decisions combine and all hell is raging and your hair is on fire. It comes as a surprise, or I would have been prepared. Why am I surprised, again? Friends suck, that is why it hurts. That is why you are not prepared. That is why you were guarded. How then did it happen again? What did you miss, that let them get past the barriers? The heat will not let up, this I know from the last time. Ok, the last several times… Here I am, in the vessel filled with the debris of many bad decisions. Good parts and bad. Broken and whole. The heat will melt it all into a soup that will easily pour into a new mold. First will come the flux that grabs what I thought was important and take it away. It has happened time and again and it is the same eve
On Divorce This is not a complete work, but a few observations. It is not all personal, but it is all true. It is about the parts that move, and the ones that don’t. The issue, at its core, is that of failure. Failure to listen, failure to tell. Failure to hear what is not said, and to do things that drive you to the edge of hope or fear. The church doesn’t know what to do with it. Society doesn’t know what to do with it. Those that are adamant about how correct they are, are the most afraid of it happening to them. Our friends are unclear about what to do with it when it happens. Most of the time it is only a trail of loss and the crumbs of our past strewn along as we go. The rending of the fabric of our relationships and lives is a sound you cannot not remember. You can imagine the lamb that has it's tail docked and has to re-orient its life and adapt to the new reality. No one wins, but some have hope of the pain stopping, and the possibility of
The music It sat there, in the corner. Hasn’t been moved in years. The man that used it is gone, but the memories are still resonating, vivid and clear. I watched him play the accordion and was in awe of the music that he made. The polkas, of course, and the many happy dance tunes. But at times, in the most incredible ways, the tune would become something that would penetrate deeply and with great soul and the curious mix of disconnection. You would wonder “how can that tune come from that machine?” The accordion is not generally a mournful and melancholic machine, and yet there it was. The sound that pulled you in rather than pushed you around the dance floor. The box is curious, and how it came to be is a quirk of history and need and serendipity. It was used on the ships in the days of sail, and languid winds, to pass the time. That version was small and quite limited, but the function was the same. A few buttons on one end, to change the pitch
Personal Pain The transformation of the pain in our life into something that can be processed is quite a challenge. The notion that it can be converted into a power source is not even a thought to most people and if mentioned is a laughable one at best. Pain is to be endured at the least and avoided if possible. Inoculation and hedging against future blows is the road most traveled… Personal pain is a reality of ownership. Not for everyone to know, these are items taken out of their own private box for a very select group. Sometimes it is a group of only one. This is the pain that is scary, sticky, and sometimes not yet congealed into a shape that can be corralled with adjectives. Real and very powerful, this is pain that is a “slow to heal wound”. Like a broken rib or shin splints, the pain is inside and in certain activities debilitating. But the knowledge that it cannot be shared is a wound just as real. This is the boomerang pain. Residual
The purpose of this blog is to send out a piece of writing from time to time, mostly each week. It is a path of randomness (the rabbit trail) and yet is connected to many other parts (the spiderweb). In this case the web is three dimensional (more random connections) and has at times been a place some people have gotten lost trying to follow the trail... I hope you will be fine with having to start over and see if you get the point. Most of these writings are personal, I have never published any, and are simply a framework for you to put your own story into. If you were to print them most are 2 pages or so, so they are a reasonable quick read. That doesn't mean they are simple, just short. While personal, they are not a diary, polemic, or a screed about some political high-horse issue, but then too, neither should the comments be that either. The best part of these is that if any particular one is of little value to you, I am fine with it. Simply come back and see if ther
In the Dark I wrote this as a description of people going through the process of recovery and starting again. We all move through that at our own pace, and can't know the cadence of another. Enjoy. There is a place underwater that the light stops penetrating. It is different depending on the part of the ocean that you go to, but the point of no light is still there. To go to this part of the dark water with a sub and turn on the lights you will find some creatures that thrive in these waters. The individual adaptations will be just that, individual. The types of actions are also very specific. The pictures of these creatures are amazing. To get to a place that is so deep that light is gone is quite of journey. The path to this level requires more than a casual step into a part of life that is not generally frequented. Mostly it is avoided. The parts of this depth that are different is that the pressures are truly phenomenal. The lack of plants and the nee