The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
The world is indeed a strange place.
Yesterday I went for a walk in order to purchase something I needed. The walk takes about 25 minutes. It is hard for me to walk even in the best weather but it was below freezing with a strong, bitter wind blowing almost constantly. About half way to my destination there is a pocket park which consists of a row of iron benches surrounding a stone structure. In the warm weather that structure is a circular pit with a fountain in the middle. It's a pleasant little place and in the summer the squirrels come and visit, looking for a handout, and the birds will perch on the edge and sometimes dip in to refresh themselves in the water. But now the fountain is covered over by a cloth which is tied down from the wind. It has the appearance of a ghostly object mysteriously sticking up from the empty pit around it.
I sat on one of the benches to rest and must have seemed to any passer as a spectral object myself, bundled up in my overcoat, sitting where no sane person would expect to be sitting in that weather.
I knew it was a fountain because I have sat there many a summer's day. But I wondered what someone would think of it who had never seen it uncovered and gently splashing with water. It resembled an unexplainable, mystical shrine of some pagan variety. One would have to imagine what it was and what it did.
Consider a saxophone. If you had never seen one before, never saw anyone playing it or knew what it was called, do you think you would identify it as a musical instrument. It's a twisty metal thing that comes to a point at one end, folds out into a well with a hole in it at the other end and in between are a bunch of holes, looking like an octopus's tentacle, with covers over them. Would your imagination tell you it was for making music or would it devise a different use, such as a planter for vines.
I had a friend who liked to visit me during my radio shift when I was a broadcaster. She would sit in front of the consol and just stare at the knobs, switches, buttons, meters and the strange inert but dangerous looking thing that stuck up into her face. She would ask me what this thing was for and what that thing did. She knew that the end result was a radio broadcast but that consol might just as well have been a wall in an ancient Egyptian tomb.
What about a foreign language? If you saw the characters of Hebrew or Arabic for the first time and didn't know it was a language would you imagine those funny looking squiggles and curves would render spoken sound, or letters, words, sentences, ideas?
I, like most people, have been fascinated with the strange objects of the world and, like my friend at the radio station, I want to know what this thing is, what it does and what it's for.
Once you know what a thing is and what it does you can start asking why. That's a delicious task for the imagination. What makes the water spout up, how does a saxophone work, why is a radio station consol built that way, why do those particular shapes make sounds and letters. I have an essay that attempts to describe a metaphysical meaning behind each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Are there similar meanings behind the fountain, the saxophone and the radio consol?
Einstein said that he wasn't particularly intelligent but that he was just very curious. Imagination and curiosity are the tools we all possess that can turn the ordinary, every day, hum drum things in the world into brand new landscapes.
DB - The Vagabond
Here we are a few days into Winter and I still don't have a Winter Question. I have some ideas but I open the meeting to anyone who would like to propose a good question to intrigue and inspire the readers to come up with interesting answers.