Thursday, September 23, 2010

Windows, Peepholes, and Meaning


“There are many windows through
which we can look out into the
world, searching for meaning ...

... Most of us, when we ponder on the
meaning of our existence,
peer through but one of these
windows onto the world.
And even that one is often misted over
by the breath of our finite humanity.

We clear a tiny peephole and stare through.

No wonder we are confused by the
tiny fraction of a whole that we see.

It is, after all, like trying to
comprehend the panorama of the
desert or the sea through
a rolled-up newspaper.”

Jane Goodall
Primatologist/Anthropologist (1924- )

2 comments:

tom dinning said...

Hi Andy.
Maybe there is no meaning. There doesn't have to be. Or maybe the meaning is in the search. Or maybe we are all wasting our time looking. Or maybe we aren't wasting our time but some of us are enjoying the looking. And some of us are confused by seeing too much. It may not be the fragments that confuse us but the over-abundance.
Somewhere deep down where we live we have these peculiar questions running through our waking moments. 'What if?', 'What comes after?', 'Is there a God?' 'Is there a finite Universe?' 'Does your dog bite?' Its a bit like betting on the horses or predicting an election outcome really. Who knows: no-one, and who cares: some do; some don't?
If there is a meaning to it all and we knew what it was we may be incredibly dissapointed. Maybe its better to hold the roled up newspaper to our eye. At least we can possibly identify what is important to each one of us and focus on it, just as Jane did. For a long time she managed to keep her 'eye on the ball'. My life doesn't give a blind thought to the chimps in Tanzania unless its presented in a National Geographic special on a lazy Saturday afternoon. And then its a passing thing. By Sunday I'll be more focussed on Bindii weed in my front lawn. each to their own.
I like people like Jane doing what they do and thinking that way. It adds colour to our world. But we all operate under a different hue. Knowing there is a meaning to it all or having a 'broader vision' of the world and our existance isn't essential for our existance. Oxygen is. Food is. Excretion of waste products is. Somewhere down the chain some have the need to go to other places. Some don't. Ain't that a nice thing. And it doesn't make either of us a better person. Just a different person.
What do e do when we look through a camera? We 'role up the newspaper', don't we? And how simple life becomes when we see it framed by some matt and hang it on the wall. for that moment, the image is our life. Then it's gone and we move on to the next. We carry parts of our past with us but none of the future. Nothing is predicable, everything can be a surprise. I'm happy not to know. Figuring out how dinner will turn out is tough enough.

2Hphotography said...

Beautiful image. There may be many windows, but the majority of us will still fail to realize that the windows we look at the world from, are our eyes, and they are tinted with our childhood, our opinions informed or uniformed and especially our prejudices.

Until we make even a tiny attempt to see with the windows of another, we are forever doomed to never understand another person, to never get out of our own tiny petty world, and make life better.

The previous commenter nailed it: often our lives are challenge enough without trying to live someone else's even for a short enough time to understand them. If we don't?...