Small mindedness; at once my curse and blessing. Unable to see the big picture, how can I be overwhelmed by, or fear, it? I’m not sure that ignorance is bliss, but I am certain that in its pool wells courage; courage that would dry, if I had any true top-down perspective of the risks I, daily, walk ignorantly by. As any can see of my path by my photos, I focus; upon the elaborate design of an insect’s anatomy, the scroll upon which a water drop scripts, the curious shape of the hole left in a leaf; my small mind, so enormously content, with the simplicity of these intricate visions.
Joseph Campbell recently told me a story of a man native to, born, and raised in the rainforest of the Amazon. His eyes knew only the cluttered and close perception where vines always dangled within an arms distance from the roof and walls of his peripheral vision. Ever brushing up directly upon life, as it likewise did upon him, it was plain to see that life covered everything, from flowers that changed the angle of their bloom with the clock of daylight to the leaf cutter ants that traced the veins of trees, he bared constant witness to the microscopic interlace of all living things.
One day, this man was walked to the end of his world, where the jungle stopped and the plains began. And having never seen expanse or witnessed distance, having never learned reference for what we easily understand in our world as depth perception, he held up his thumb to the bison in the distance roaming by, and judged it to be the same size of the leafcutter ant on the tree nearby.
The same is said of the Native American; that having watched the sun set on straight lines of sea for centuries, that when the first Spanish ships broke the monotony, it wasn’t that he wasn’t looking, but that, without the ability to conceive, the distinct shape of these looming ships, he physically couldn’t perceive.
Now, as 1150 fingers struggle with peanut packages, shuffle through newspapers and snap back soda tabs, while through small, square-ish windows a glimpse out to a rarely viewed world of unfathomable depths emerges, distances, disappears and passes, I wonder. Didn’t or couldn’t?
Are we really looking? Have we outgrown our limited perception? What do we see, but refuse to believe? What reality, do I by my own ignorance evade, but which awaits my realization patiently? I search my horizon for the unseen ships and mountains hidden incognito in the size and disguise of leaf cutter ants — and I wonder.