It's about 30 minutes before dawn. I hear a wild goose off in the distance, and then my neighbor cough. Now and then a car passing on the distant street. My thoughts come and go. I feel I should grab one of those thoughts, wrestle it into submission, and present it as a blog post.
But that can wait. For now, I'd rather just watch the night turn into day. The refrigerator comes on. The furnace creaks. I hear wind chimes from across the yard.
The sky is light enough the trees are silhouetted against it now. The early dawn.
I think an odd thing about observation is that we so often want to give it a purpose and then guide it. By guide it, I mean we want to weed out some of what's happening because it doesn't fit in with our purpose -- with what we're looking for. Then, too, we want to hold onto other parts of what's happening because those parts actually fit our purpose.
Yet -- when we observe with a purpose in mind -- we more or less observe what we expect to observe.
I've lived in this cottage for almost a year now, and this morning was the first time I've noticed how many wind chimes there are in my immediate neighborhood. I wasn't expecting to notice them, though. I was instead having one of those rare moments when you observe without much in the way of expecting anything.
It seems to me that it can be extraordinarily difficult to observe without any purpose. For the most part, we're looking for something. Often, that "something" is beauty, pleasure, or whatever we expect to find because we've seen it before. But whatever it is, we are actively looking for it.
Still, it's in those rarer moments when we are not looking for anything -- when we do not seek beauty, pleasure, or this or that thing -- that we are most likely to discover the new.