I’ve been reading Pilgrim At Tinker Creek over the Christmas break and have been thinking about Annie Dillard’s discussion of seeing and knowing what to look for. She says, “…I don’t see what the specialist sees, and so I cut myself off, not only from the total picture, but from the various forms of happiness.”
I often wonder what I don’t see everyday because I’m not looking for it. Dillard finds that the more she learns about nature the more she can see the little details that are usually missed by people. I can’t help, but feel the same way about life and learning in general. At times I am overcome by the feeling I am getting an incomplete picture. I don’t want to be cut off from “various forms of happiness” as Dillard so puts it. The whole idea of being able to “see” reminds me of something I heard in Gardner’s talk at JMU on Digital Imagination; briefly stated, the students in his class were unable to see the answer to a question they had even though it was right their in the book, they were unable to see it.
I don’t believe it is just knowing that will solve my problem of being unable to see. I know people who have a head full of knowledge, but all those facts sit idly waiting to be called upon by a trivia question in a game show. I won’t stand for just being a container filled to the brim with facts, I want that imagination that will allow me to see what I cannot. To be able to imagine what is not necessarily already explicitly stated.
Dillard states, “Seeing is of course very much a matter of verbalization. Unless I call my attention to what passes before my eyes, I simply won’t see it.” I want to be ready to make connections and not let things just pass me by unseen. I am convinced there is a lot of meaning out there if we care to learn and imagine.