Chronicles of the Wayward Moot

WELCOME TO THE MOOT, oh world-wanderers and word-whisperers. After two years of Peace Corps. After 2,200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. What. Comes. Next?


I return to the Moot after a considerable absence, acknowledging that my offline life has been blessedly full of change and love and valuable experience. Now to the prose:

Yesterday afternoon in Sacramento, California. It was one of those moments that come along too seldom. A moment when clarity shines down through the layers of thought and perception and nestles right into that nook of your consciousness dedicated to musings of everything being as it should be. I sat in the jacuzzi up to my waist with a book on Yoga anatomy in my hands, my lower body enjoying the dilation of blood vessels that occurs in very warm water. Palm trees stretched toward the blue sky as garden snails navigated the concrete planters dotting the pool area. A paragraph on the various types of joints in the human body was absorbing my conscious mind when I noticed a leaf floating along the water's surface. Fall's color had graced the leaf with bright yellow and orange hues, and its surface displayed a few droplets of water that resembled minuscule spheres of glass, distorting the shape of the delicate filaments and veins of the leaf seen within them. Each droplet acted as its own magnifying glass, evoking the details of the leaf up and out to the enjoyment of anyone sensitive enough to observe.

Ignoring the book for the moment, I watched the leaf drift beneath my gaze. More details of the image emerged. I saw that a similar bending of visible light occurred where the weight of the leaf pressed downward on the surface tension of the water, much like a massive object would bend the plane of a sheet of rubber or a person jumping would stretch a trampoline. The closer one looks to the object exerting the force, the greater the angle of distortion. Beyond the leaf I drew my gaze to the pattern on the bottom of the jacuzzi, visible since the jets were shut off. The complex underwater mixture of mosaic shapes and colors were static until the leaf drifted near them in a light breeze. Then, as if the leaf possessed some magical property, the patterns warped and bent around the unique shape of the leaf. Each lift and curl of the yellow and orange piece of former tree exerted an effect on the way my eyes perceived the patterns beneath the water.

To learn a bit more about optical distortion and how it works:

Now what I began to feel during this experience was something that I know and understand on an intellectual level but less seldom on a moment-to-moment whole being level: Everything is connected. I teach this to school children. I read about it in books. I marvel about that fact and wonder how our species seems to have strayed so far from this truth, and there it was in front of my eyes in a little hot tub in California's central valley plain to see and ripe for the grasping. I mused: Distortion in proportion to mass, proximity ... surface tension of water combined with temperature gradients in the air (resulting in gentle breezes to blow leaves) shares basic appearances and relationships with the way gravity and space time are imagined to work. I'll ponder this some more and come back to it if necessary. In the meantime, I hope you'll let me know what kind of content you'd like to see here as I return to more regular posting. Rest assured that sharing my recent photography will remain a key feature of the blog.

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