Things to Ponder

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*Photo courtesy of the lovely Kaja Wierucka

Well, it’s actually a tidepool, not a pond (ugh I’m so ashamed of myself but also, haha, puns).

Anyways, I like the symmetry/obvious symbolism of this photograph, plus some of you (hey!) may actually not know what I look like and stuff, so here- that’s me! Agent Red Squirrel, blogger and aspiring scientist. You oughtn’t be surprised that I spend a fair amount of my time crouched down to look at stuff- bugs, plants, scat, octopuses, shiny rocks, trash, alternate dimensions, microuniverses, alien spacecraft- you know, all the interesting things. From way up high where my head is when I stand up, I can see a fair distance, reach tall things, and speak to people in a normal kind of way… but down closer to the ground I can pay a lot more attention to all the tiny things that happen all the time.

Without moving my feet from that spot in that photo, I saw mantis shrimp, hairy crabs, octopuses, tiny fish, pistol shrimp, hermit crabs, three kinds of algae, a sponge, a baby giant clam, and a swimmer crab. Presumably without me moving my feet from that spot in that photo, all of those things also saw me. I like to think about the reflexiveness of observation in moments like that- I’m watching them, they’re watching me, I’m aware of myself watching them and the filter through which I see their interactions with the world. It’s all very meta.

A science project: go somewhere, find something you’d normally overlook- a patch of mushrooms, a trail of ants, a puddle of water, a weirdly shaped icicle- and watch it for ten minutes. Your primary objective is to observe the thing. Your secondary objective is to observe yourself. Can you look at a thing for ten minutes? Can you find different things with which to interest yourself within that thing? Can you resist the urge to reach down and change the thing you’re observing? Is it changed, just through your observation?

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