An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of April 18, 2004
Issued from the woods a few miles west of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

FOCUSING

With so many things in nature going on right now, my mind tends toward diffusion. For example, my thoughts are snared by the fluty song of the Orchard Oriole, and then come reflections on how this bird has just arrived from tropical America, and then I remember all the habitat destruction there and here, and then the question arises as to who will eat the bugs who eat the plants around me now, if not the Orchard Oriole, and what that will mean for these forests and fields. And there are dozens of such birdsongs and other things snaring the mind all the time, hundreds of meditations and questions associated with each, and thousands of potential scenarios.

Something tells me it's not good to let the mind think diffusedly all the time, or even most of the time, so regularly I yank my mind out of that mode, and do focusing exercises.

For example, this morning with my binoculars I walked around focusing my lenses on individual things, just looking at them for a long time, as if I were standing before a piece of art on a museum wall, and I kept looking until I was satisfied that I had seen something important there.

I focused on a certain freshly emerged green oak leaf with sunlight rampaging through it. I don't believe there has ever been a design in all of Paris more expressive and perfect than the curl of that leaf just as it was during that particular moment of sunlit perfection. I focused on a feather with dew on it. I can't recall any painted picture in any museum anywhere evoking such pathos as that wrecked, wet feather. For long moments I beheld a yellow oxalis blossom all surrounded by green grass, and then I saw -- really saw, saw as well as my mind could see at that time -- the grain in a weathered fence plank, and a cluster of pebbles in the sand at the creek's edge. Facebook Icon.