Honing Perception

vulture1
I love these computer apps that turn a photo into a painting. The photo of the moment the vulture sat on the telephone pole and spread her wings does not do justice to the awe and wonder of the moment, but the painting version starts to add that layer.

<Post-publish edit: After I posted this, I went to my Facebook page and saw that on this same day last year I posted a gratitude reflection on the color indigo. I love that synchronicity. I wonder if mid-October is a particularly apt time to notice indigo.>

Gratitude List:
1. Parent-Teacher Conferences yesterday. It takes extra energy, and it’s a really long day, but I love the chance to tell parents how I see their student in classes. Yesterday one of my colleagues talked about the moments before a parent enters the room for a conference–he said, “You have to ‘put on the child.'” It may sound strange, but that’s exactly right. It feels almost like a prayer moment, that moment of breathing, of calling the image of the student into my head and heart, before we begin to talk. I often find myself glancing at the seat where the student sits when I am talking to the parents, as though the student is there in the room.  This kind of awareness is particularly important, I think, when we are discussing difficulties, because conversations about challenges can veer into talking as though the student is the problem, but of course that isn’t it at all. The student may have a problem, and we are there to strategize solutions. Parent-teacher conferences are a kind of professional development–both for the parenting and the teaching. We both come away with ideas for supporting these marvelous young people.
2. The colors of sunset. I am still intrigued by the new research that says that scholars who have studied ancient languages can’t find a word for blue. If we don’t have a word for a thing, it usually means we do not conceptualize it. I am baffled by the lack of blue in ancient eyes. On the other hand, indigo seems to be a color that modern eyes struggle to see. We keep dropping it from the rainbow, or we substitute Prussian Blue. I keep going back to the interview I heard with Oliver Sacks on Radiolab where he discussed his search to truly see indigo, how he could only see it during a drug-induced hallucination.  I feel like sunset is the time to settle the eyes and brain into a meditative state that might possibly be able to conceptualize and interpret the colors without the help of mind-altering substances. Sunset and sunrise are the moments when I think I am closest to understanding blue and indigo, to experiencing the shades and shifts of color throughout the spectrum.
3. The Moon, the First Star, and the Dragon-Shaped Cloud–these three accompanied me on the ride home as I drove into the sunset yesterday evening.
4. Literature and Story. When I got home last night, my kids were totally engrossed in their books. One of the reasons that I am an English teacher is that I want to give my students the gift of story. I don’t need them to all become voracious readers, but I want them all to learn to find satisfaction in story. The same goes for my boys–I love when they become involved in story. I suppose that the ability to get lost in a story is sort of like the ability to see certain colors. As we enter a story, we refine our internal perceptions of human experience, increasing our ability to conceptualize the shades and colors that fill the spectrum of what it means to be human. Let’s keep searching for each other’s indigo.
5. Michelle Obama. She is one of the most inspiring speech-makers I have listened to. I will miss her as First Lady.

May we walk in Beauty!

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