My eye has always been drawn towards edges and transitions, the cracks, the spaces where one thing ends and another begins. This has a lot to do with my insecurity as a child, growing up constantly looking at others to figure out the “right” way to do things so that I could avoid making mistakes or exposing myself to shows of ignorance.
I always wanted to know the “why”, the reason that things held together just the way that they did. Learning about one piece of the puzzle was never enough if I didn’t see how it fit in with the things around it.
Focusing on human created systems can be very frustrating for me. We tend to build things out only so far as profit calls for. All too often our systems have sharp edges, cutting off abruptly as soon as it become inconvenient. Even the most well-intentioned and thoughtful systems cannot cover every contingency for lack of imagination or resources.
For man-made systems the edges and gaps are a liability. The spaces between these systems are where the dust collects and unintended consequences arise, which often require more systems of their own to patch over and bridge the gap. This, often, only creates more edges.
Nature, however, runs different kinds of systems. No single element is neglected, and nothing is wasted. I like to think of natural systems as persistent, rather than pocket.
If anyone wants to know whether they are interacting with something holistic, comprehensive and natural, look for the edges, look for the gaps.
This was my experience a couple of days ago on a frustrating photo walk. In this time of seasonal transition and social insecurity it seemed as if everything were presented only in washed out yellows and browns. Even the blue sky in contrast seemed dull.
The only color I could find in this stark landscape were the subdued glow of moss on tree branches and the warmth of rotting wood inside of long-felled logs.
Despite the fact that everything seems to be in a holding pattern, just waiting for the next sign of spring to unleash growth, life has never truly stopped. At the borders, on tree trunks, in the crevices where water and warmth slowly decay tree stumps, life continues. Raw materials are being broken down and turned into something new all the time, even if we don’t see it. In fact, it is in these crevices, cracks and divisions that the real magic of life happens. The transition between twig and bud, the transition between the end of one life and the beginning of another, that is the where the greatest magic of growth occurs.