Two things happened this morning that got me to thinking about perception and edges. The first was an op-ed piece in the New York Times (12/26/13) by Akiko Busch titled “Life on the Edge” that was about ecotones–the edges where different habitats meet, such as forest and meadow or lawns to gardens. By itself, the idea of ecotones is fascinating, but Busch went on to relate the idea of edges to time, to the new year or change from day to day, that can be imagined as temporal edge effects. Given my fascination with the complexities of time, Busch’s piece was written just for me.
The second event was my receipt of an email from my sister that contained a clip of a cat, seen through a fish bowl.
See how the cat is distorted? How we see the cat depends on where we are in relation to the little guy. It’s a bit like the elephant story, in which several blindfolded people will describe the elephant differently depending on where they are standing and feeling her.
Combine the different ways of perception with the notion of edges and whole new worlds open up. Busch said that a temporal edge is a “cusp where past and future interact”, one that allows for “sudden sightings of unexpected possibilities”. The same might be said for differences in perspectives. How we see the edges where the past and the future meet depends on where we stand when we look. This widens the possibilities hugely.
Lately I have been a bit depressed, having to do with both the time of year and the reflections of my recent past that the season tends to bring, added to the somewhat serious illness of my oldest cat (who was really Bob’s cat, as he chose her from the pound and she knew it). But this morning, having read Busch’s piece and seen my sister’s cat clip, it finally occurred to me that every moment is a cusp, and how I see and react to that is often my own choice of perspective to take. I have decided to be an optimist for a moment or two, to see positive possibilities for my next moments. I can decide to find happiness in Festivus or in myself, or in my purring cat. I can choose to see the past and/or the future through the fishbowl, up close or sideways. I can see around the edge. It is good.