Friday, November 8, 2013

We brush past an amazing hidden world

We live in a commercial, western world which encourages us to put ourselves forward and get attention. This is understandable when you consider that businesses need customers so that employees can be paid, so that families can comfortably earn a wage they need to survive. But just because that's the way we've been brought up to think things have to be, I've been wondering if it's necessarily the way the world was designed to operate.

A fair bit of photography has been taking place around our house. When we were up in Cairns, my nephew and my daughter both bought themselves good quality Nikon cameras. We've never owned anything with such a decent zoom lens before, and I've been enjoying the close-ups.

On the train back from Kuranda to Cairns, we were looking down at the spectacular Barron Falls and noticed a walking group standing beside the edge. Emma decided to zoom in on them with her camera to get a closer look at what they were doing, and to her shock, one fellow unzipped his fly and started to relieve himself over the edge of the waterfall. Her eyes were popping out of her head. "It's the guy in the yellow t-shirt!" Even though he was apparently still flowing, they all looked like ants to me. Being able to use that camera to pry into things not easily seen with the human eye has its moments of surprise.

On that same ride, a plain looking little bird on a distant sign post turned out to be a pretty kingfisher with delicate shades of blue. We'd never have realised it. Since we've been home in Adelaide, I've continued to be surprised at fine detail we usually miss. The shaggy wings of a close-up little moth are just like Mr Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street, or some sort of fringed garment. A tiny bug on the side of the guinea pig hutch turns out to have amazing detail in each of his wings, finer than any pencil point could draw. It fills me with awe at how delicately and wonderfully crafted the details of creation are, yet we so often breeze past without noticing.

Funnily enough, it's helped me put my writing in perspective. The same probably goes for you, whatever it is you do. If God gets his fine craftsmanship and breath-taking detail brushed past every day, then humans doing creative things don't have to worry when the same thing happens to us. Creativity doesn't have to be admired. That's not its main purpose, whatever we've been brainwashed to think. It's there for its own sake, and if anyone does get a bit of a 'wow' when they get a glimpse into secret places, that's a bonus.

For one of his recent birthdays, I took my youngest son and his sister down to the city to visit the museum. There had been school excursions getting hands-on lectures from a group of scientists, and we were lucky enough to arrive at the tail end of a presentation. As the school kids were filing out, one of the demonstrators was at a loose end. He invited my kids to come over and pick tiny particles out of a mound of dirt with tweezers. It turned out to contain lots of hidden secrets.

As Emma or Blake pulled up anything a little bigger than a normal speck of dust, he'd magnify it for them and say something like, "That is the back knee joint of a tiny gnat," or "That's the shoulder socket of an ancient grasshopper," or, "That's part of a marsupial's toe nail." They had him all to themselves for about half an hour.

I'm reminded of my characters, Brooke and Aidan, in "The Greenfield Legacy", the novel I worked on with three other authors. In one of my sections, Brooke tells Aidan about seeing a flower blooming on top of a lonely hill where people rarely go, and that she found herself wondering what purpose such extravagance could serve, to which he replies, "Well, you saw it."

The world is extravagant like that. On our holiday, Blake and I went on a glass bottom boat. It's a vividly colourful, vibrant world down there, but it's usually hidden from human view. Clown fish and turtles were just doing their usual thing, not knowing that several people were getting a peep into their secret world. I'm also reminded of pregnancy ultrasounds, when babies are just wriggling around, doing whatever it is they do at that stage of their lives, oblivious to the fact that they are being observed, and people are saying, "Look at his dear little fingers."

As I said, I don't necessarily think the world was designed for people to be thrusting themselves into the limelight, but we've felt we had to make it that way. I'll keep encouraging the kids to take photos, watching nature documentaries and work on their own creatives pursuits as I do the same. As it is such an incredibly detailed world, it's a shame to live our lives not delving into it and finding out more.

All photos were taken by Emma with her new camera.
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