By Jacob Kvale
The most mundane act, a morning drive to another day of work, presents an endless sea of possibility. It also presents a series of choices, whether or not to actively invite the subtlety and minutiae into my field of awareness.
As Annie Dillard writes in ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’: “They say of nature that it conceals with a grand nonchalance, and they say of vision that it is a deliberate gift.”
The canyon walls are never the same. Some days dark and stagnant, others robed in radiance. When I pay attention, I realize that often my internal state is intricately linked to the external aesthetic of the moment at hand. It reminds me of my inherent connection to these spaces that I often disregard as I sail past at highway speed.
I relish the days when the shadows of the canyons give way to the airy splendor of the Potomac valley. It seems to be an invitation to awaken; to trade the sleepy passivity of the dark spaces for the connected attention of the illuminated. However, I am eternally grateful for both, and for the in-between spaces as light becomes cloaked in shadow and shadow dissipates into light.
On any given day, I might drive through five or six distinct regions of light before parking my car in the lot and delving into the world of lists and to-dos. As my interior mirrors the exterior, I am reminded of my own ability to change, adapt, and thrive. I am thankful for all parts of myself, the light and the dark.
If this is the journey over 30 minutes on a given day, how much more grand and rich is the larger pattern of the changing seasons. So grand that it is difficult to see the change by looking right at it. By stepping back and taking it in with an eye toward the oblique and abstract, the pattern is at least partially revealed. Though I don’t see its entirety, I feel its power and beauty.
I am thankful for the ability to pay attention and for the daily gifts this attention brings me.
I am reminded of all the poems I’ve written in my life, the moments of perception uncovered and adored:
I can’t help but think
There’s something else we often don’t
Something we need to be reminded of
That the choice is ours
What courage it takes to mean what
To live the life in front of me