Monday, March 11, 2013

#slice2013 11 of 31

Yesterday for English my assignment was to sit outside for a half hour and to observe. My teacher's point was that he already gave us at least a half hour of homework a night, so this would just take up that time. Of course, everyone except for the ultra-teacher's pet in the row behind me thought it was crazy. Five minutes of sitting and observing seemed reasonable, but thirty? One student asked exactly what I was thinking: "Have you done this yourself? Because that seems like a bit much." Mr. Carter responded that not only had he done it before, but he tried to do it at least once a week as a type of meditation.

Going home that afternoon, I still thought he was a bit off his rocker, but headed outside to sit for thirty minutes because I am not the type of student who doesn't do their homework. I brought a pencil and notebook out with me, since he'd suggested that we all sit for fifteen minutes just looking and smelling and appreciating and then the second fifteen minutes we could write down all that we notice.

I live in Connecticut, and as anyone who lives anywhere near me knows, the past few days have really started to feel like spring. The snow is melting and birds are coming out and the thermometer reached 65 degrees the other day. So I walk outside to sit and observe pretty happily. The sun is out, there isn't a cloud in the sky, the stone path is a comfortable temperature and I'm already thinking about all the things I could write down for my observations in my head.

However, it wasn't until I lay down and really looked at the sky and the trees around me and listened to the melted snow dripping off the roof that I truly began to notice. What I found is that you can't just write down anything and say you observe it without sounding like a phony. In order to observe, you have to observe.

Here are some things that I noticed:

1. If you stare at something long enough, it begins to look unrecognizable. It's sort of like how if you say someone's name over and over and over it starts to sound choppy and unfamiliar.

2. There are a lot of symmetrical things in nature.

3. I can hear the snow melt. The first time I heard the loud crunch behind me, I sat up and whipped around, sure that someone was trying to sneak up on me. However, after it happened multiple times I realized it was the snow caving in on itself.

4. The leaves on the plant next to me don't look like they're moving, but I know they are because I can see the sunlight sliding back and forth on the crisscrossing lines of spider webs.

5. The snow looks like it is made of tiny beads of water.

6. The wind starts in the outermost branches and then moves inwards until the trunk gently sways.

7. We have a huge puddle on the road at the top of our driveway, so I can tell how fast a car is driving by how loud the splash is.


  1. Your observations had me right there with you! Thanks for sharing your homework assignment with us. I'm starting a meditation course this evening--what a coincidence I came across your blogpost!

  2. It will be interesting to know what your teacher plans to do with your observations. You are right that those who only list superficial items, didn't really stop to listen. Nice list.

  3. Loved your comment about being able to hear the snow melting....I liken it to the sound of snow falling: you really feel the presence of nature in moments like this. Now....what will come of this list?