On Perception (and Frosted Trees)

What a winter we have been having here in the Northeast! Lots of snow and frigid temperatures. But it is also the most exquisitely beautiful winter I can recall!

In early January, I fell in love with frosted trees. It’s as if they appeared for the first time out of nowhere, leaving me wondering why they’d never made an impression on me before – and also causing me to anticipate sub-zero (°F) mornings with great excitement.

One morning last week, I woke up, looked out the front windows, and to my surprise and delight, the island in front of our house was frosted with ice crystals, as were all the trees along the river.

I couldn’t remember that ever happening before right in front of our house. Surely, it must have at some point, but it probably didn’t register because I wasn’t looking for it. Seems we tend to believe what we can perceive and tend to perceive what we are looking for! And there are certain habitual ways in which each of us perceives the world around us, leaving so much to fall outside of our radar.

That reminds me of an image that came to me recently, all of a sudden. I’d love to draw it but think it’s beyond my current skill level! It’s an image of a picture frame surrounding a scene containing separate shapes that look like people, a hill, a sun in the sky, etc. But the complete picture extends WAY beyond the frame. The frame seems to be the size of a postage stamp, and the picture is at least the size of a house. But I couldn’t even see the complete picture. It seemed to extend beyond the limits of my perception even when I zoomed way out. But the part I could see was like an enormous, intricate mandala or fractal pattern, and the separate figures inside the tiny frame actually extended beyond the frame and were all linked together in the larger pattern; they weren’t separate after all. Oh, I wish I could draw it because words don’t do it justice! It reminded me of the warehouse metaphor Anita Moorjani used to describe what she perceived during her near-death experience, which I wrote about in a previous post.

Getting back to that beautiful, frosted morning… It happened to be a work day, and when I left the house, the sun had risen just enough to flood the frosted island with light and make it glisten enchantingly.

Although I don’t usually perceive the world musically, that morning’s extraordinary crystal sunrise was accompanied in my head by a song that has yet to be born. I still can hear every detail in my mind, and only three words that repeated like a mantra: All is yes. Again, my level of skill does not allow me to adequately express it musically with the light, playful harp or electric piano accompaniment and the mature female voices I heard in the theater of my mind. Words are inadequate. But every morning since when I notice the frosted tree “effect,” the song plays again in my mind like a joyous celebration.

Of course, I couldn’t help it. I had to make a brief detour on the way to work to do the February equivalent of stopping to smell the roses. In fact, I got into the habit of wearing my cold-weather outdoor pants and boots on the way to work and changing into my work clothes upon arrival, for I cannot resist compelling scenery along the way. There have been a few mornings when I deeply regretted not being able to linger for an extra 15 minutes in the frigid cold!

One recent morning, I dreamt that I had become close friends with a renowned photographer. We hit it off instantly and were like platonic soulmates. I was able to ask him all kinds of photography questions. It was like I had my own photography dream mentor! (Upon waking, I had the impression that it was Louie Schwartzberg, my favorite cinematographer.) And it didn’t surprise me at all that, in waking life, it ended up being the most perfect morning ever for winter photography. And it wasn’t a work morning, either! I snowshoed for hours with my camera in the sub-zero, frosted wonderland along the river and was filled with peace and joy. Nature medicine at its finest!

I came home and described the wonder of the silence (punctuated occasionally by the sound of a woodpecker knocking) and the gentle frost showers that seemed to fall from the frosted trees, high up where the rising mist turned to ice crystals. Those closest to me expected I’d write a poem about it, but instead I created a video.

Even when it seems endless (which it’s not!), winter can be downright dazzling! I invite you to enter the lovely stillness, peace, and joy that I experienced that morning. This is my valentine to you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFp3mXBjLrM&feature=youtu.be

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