So much of what I see is filtered by a brain long conditioned to recognize patterns. If that were not the case, my bet is every day would be a confusing and time-consuming challenge to get through.
I had a fascinating experience last month early one morning walking in the dunes of Ludington State Park. In the distance I noticed a dead tree that for some reason didn’t seem quite right. It was just a bit too thick on top. This is what I saw:
Because I did not have binoculars with me that morning, I used my camera’s zoom lens to “get closer” (a great technique I often use when birding) and this is what I saw:
Using the electronic zoom on my camera (a Pentax K-7), I further zoomed in on the image and, voilà, it became very clear not only why the tree looked different but exactly who was using it for a perch, a Bald Eagle:
For me this was yet another wonderful lesson about “seeing!” How much of life I simply pigeonhole and, too often, basically ignore because it fits a “normal” pattern. When the brain says “Whoa!!!,” it can be useful to stop in order to see things more closely.
By the way, the Eagle continued to fly by, often quite near, for the rest of the week, a delight to see every time.