Eye level.

June 18, 2018 § 4 Comments

So much of what we consider important is based on scale.

Full-grown, we are generally in the 5’-6’ range.

We do not fly, so human eye level is our perpetual vantage point.

Those living things that are larger than we are, and there aren’t many, are viewed at that eye level. We see the trunk, but have to make a conscious effort to lean back and peer up into the crown of a tree.

Sure, we see full trees as distance brings them down to eye level, but distance obscures, generalizes.

To see, really see a tree…well…I suppose you would have to climb it, get up to tree-eye level.

Smaller than we are? Minute? We are really good at ignoring those creatures unless they sting us, or take up residence in our houses.

Otherwise, we rarely consider the doings of creatures significantly smaller than ourselves.

It is as if those species that will never look us in the eye don’t exist.

And they return the favor. For them, we are too large to be relevant.

And so, a nearly infinite number of lives are going on simultaneously, but each species notices other species highly selectively, based on the ways in which we interact, sure, but scale is one of the factors that determines who notices whom.

For practical purposes, we, and those other-sized forms of life, occupy separate worlds.

For the small, the world exists among sand grains and blades of grass. From our vantage point, that is no world at all, just a Saturday lawn that needs to be mowed.

If those small creatures were scaled up we would be amazed.

The ant carries things almost too tiny to be considered things by relative giants like ourselves, yet, to replicate the ordinary feat of an ant on human scale would be like hefting a VW up in our arms and carrying it for miles.

We can end the life of a small creature with a quick swat, but for those with whom they share a common scale the small can be ferocious and deadly.

The small dominate the jungle that is your lawn, the space between branches, the gap under the shingles on your house, the ephemeral puddle from this morning’s rain. The minute are masters in that small-scaled world and they live unnoticed all around us.

They share our indifference. Unless we pose a threat, we are little noticed by them because we are irrelevant to the task at hand, which is survival. But if we choose to do so, we can notice them because, at least in theory, we are curious and our interests are not limited to survival alone.

If we bother to really see those built on a smaller scale, it becomes clear that the hum of life is much bigger and more varied and interesting than it appears from our lofty eye level.

Abundant and prolific, life on earth is a vast choir in which ours is just one voice.

Don’t mistake size for importance. Seen on the scale of the universe, we are all small.

Sing your note, yes, but be aware that yours is one small note in the Hallelujah Chorus of life.

And it is a chorus, not a solo performance.

To sing good harmony, pay attention to the rest of the choir.

No matter how small, each member sings a note as important and as interesting as yours.

Note: The photos were taken by my husband, Ray Faass, who has been paying attention to the small for years.

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