Diffusion Filter

November 6th, 2013, 2pm

It was 20°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

Throughout the day and the evening friends, acquaintances, even strangers would ask, “Were you outside at 2pm today? Wasn’t that the most beautiful light you’ve ever seen?”

The cloud pattern seen above in the photograph of the Jefferson covered all 360 degrees of sky, casting everything and everyone in perfect diffused lighting.

It created an instant community of souls: first I stopped, marveled, grabbed my phone and started snapping photos. Second, I paused and looked around to see if others had been similarly touched by the beauty. Yes, of the 50 or so people milling about the plaza at least a dozen were entranced by the display.

One by one the bedazzlement loosened its grip, and the bedazzled individual looked around for others, desperate that the moment might be shared.

Do we know much about that instinct? Is there something hard-wired into our DNA that persuades us that an experience isn’t real until it is communal?

Are we seeking confirmation, or an innate desire to share? Both/and?

It’s not much of a stretch to posit that such an impulse feeds the streams of social media. Western society seems hobbled by greed and yet the most-used verb on the internet for the last few years is “SHARE” (to Twitter, to Facebook, et al).

Back to the photo: Without exaggeration, people throughout the day would ask, “Were you outside at 2pm?”

Did I see what I thought I saw?

Are we hard-wired to believe in magic, thus our modern psyche demands we enlist a second set of eyes to confirm “reality”? Do we experience a double reflex of belief and disbelief?

I grapple with a Roman Catholic upbringing. (Recently someone misheard me as saying, “I was braised in the Catholic Church.”) One aspect of such grappling is the recollection of church teachings as an ‘unrelated’ occurrence takes place.

The phrase that emerges as I ponder these thoughts of community, confirmation, belief/disbelief is: “Wherever two or more gather in my name, there I am.”

Will cognitive science someday prove that statement to be true, that a nexus of experience generates a compound we currently define as “transcendence”?

Julian, Craig, Eric, Howard and 8 others said thanks.

Share this moment

John Pull

builder, mentor, maker, traveler

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