Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Retina prints. DNA. Finger prints. But tongue prints? Yes, there are several elements of a person that is solely unique to each individual. And believe it or not, science tells us that one's tongue "print" is unique to each individual person on this planet. It would seem that Life continually reminds us that it was created - regardless of how many of each life form - to be lived completely and totally as an individual. No two animals, no two plants, no two humans to ever experience the very same life journey.

So why is it we - collectively, societally - spend so much time trying to have others see life as we do? Why is it we desperately try living the life that others seem to be living? From early on, we are taught that elements of life are "the same" (species of fruits, classifications of animals, races of people, etc.) and we are also taught that "three of these things belong and one of these things doesn't..." (from Sesame Street). There is so much time in our early education that is spent on sticking elements of life - including ourselves, our views, our backgrounds and cultures - into neat and distinguishable categories that we forget that we are also unique sojourners. We are temporary but rare and one-of-a-kind residents on this planet.

I have spent the better part of ten years photographing sunsets and sunrises. It just seems to be a powerful moment and attraction for me; one that I can't explain. Auburn, golden, shadowed, crimson, glorious sunrises and sunsets. And in those ten years I have yet to find two moments to ever be the same. Somewhat similar, yes. But never close enough to be called the same. I'm sure part of the reasoning is that I am intersecting my own personal journey on each of those moments. And if you and I were to stand and watch the very same sunset, it would be different for both of us. How wonderful is that when you can accept that reality!

A father and his daughter were looking out of their screen door at the beautiful sunset that was occurring over the distant field. The father said reflectively, "What a beautiful sight." To which the daughter responded, "Yes daddy, but how do they get the lines so close together?" The father was perplexed by this observation, wondering if she was talking about the various shades of colors. Kneeling down next to her, he peered out at the sunset again. His daughter said again, "It is beautiful, daddy, but how do they get the lines so close together?" She then pointed to the individual criss-cross wiring of the mesh screen on the door. Two individuals, two sojourners, the same sunset, two very different views.

I have spent the better part of half my life attempting to understand where I fit into the flow and ebb of Life and all of its purposes and events - in my lifestyle, beliefs, career, etc. I've come to believe that I am that small maple sapling that is sprouting in the shade of a mighty oak, right next to the blooming sumac and wild chokecherry bush. We're all soaking up the same sun and rain, using it for the same purpose: to grow into our own unique and glorious character.

Knowing and acknowledging that puts the finish line of the lifelong rat race at our very feet. Perhaps it's time to start seeing, feeling and tasting Life with the unique individuality that was given to each of us.

hoedl's haven
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