Re-examining ‘reality’

Posted 2/1/23

In my first River Talk column of the new year, I set a goal to loosen my grip on what I perceive to be “reality,” based on sensory experiences.

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Re-examining ‘reality’


In my first River Talk column of the new year, I set a goal to loosen my grip on what I perceive to be “reality,” based on sensory experiences. 

As promised, I began heeding poet Mary Oliver’s advice to “keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” After putting forth that intention, “the unimaginable” began to announce its presence, and continues to do so, much to my delight. 

The natural world has long illuminated a compelling path for me, and the nature of the Upper Delaware River region is rich with an abundance of wonders, many of which can be readily experienced and are widely recognized, such as eagles, black bears and white-tailed deer. 

Far more occurs below the radar of everyday sensory perception, requiring an attentive eye that is not shuttered by the limits of preconception.

 “Just as the hand, held before the eye, can hide the tallest mountain, so the routine of everyday life can keep us from seeing the vast radiance and the secret wonders that fill the world.” This 18th century Chasidic saying opens the thought-provoking book, “The Brain’s Way of Healing,” in which  Norman Doidge, M.D., explores the “Frontiers of Neuroplasticity.”

Keeping that in mind, I wandered into 2023 with an inquisitive eye and heart, open to the unimaginable. I explored whatever presented itself while prowling around the yard with my smartphone camera, which was outfitted with a macro lens, collecting photos on New Year’s Day. 

The resulting block of images depict some of the results. My intent was to purposefully play with perception in what I encountered. I employed the lens to capture recognizable images, such as the close-up of the face (sixth image from top left), as well as to toy with “reality” by introducing abstraction through blur, distortion or bokeh (out-of-focus areas in an image) as can be seen in several of the photos.

Do you see what I saw when I shot these images? Have fun guessing, based on YOUR perception! 

Answers below!


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Answers to “River Talk”

From top, left to right: 1. Rusted bedspring 2. Knotted links of metal bonded by rust 3. Frozen leaf stem in ice 4. Bubbles emerging from thawing ice 5. Macro view of moss and pine needles 6. Face of weathered figurine 7. Disintegrating garden statue 8. My reflection in a glass globe 9. Orange jelly fungus 10. Glowing holiday decoration 11. Crown of large white pine 12. Antique tea kettle.

reality, pictures, perception, nature, outdoors


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