Shun electric wire. / Communicate slowly. Live / a three-dimensioned life; / stay away from screens. / Stay away from anything / that obscures the place it is in.” ~ from How to be a Poet by Wendell Berry
On my walk last Wednesday I passed the swamp I always pass, the same scrub brush and swamp maples and bent over birches. A podcast was talking in my ear. My mind was crossing off multi-tasks and making another list of things to do when I got back to the house.
How it happened in all my electric made-up screening two-dimensional noise, I don’t know, but something caught my eye. I slowed down. Stopped. Backed up.
Red berries on the brush, gray-black speckled branches, white bark in the background. Three-dimensions pulsed from that space, beckoning.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Slow. Down.
I did. For a minute. Which seemed like a lifetime. No, it felt like eternity all at once.
And then I did what all decent members of virtual communities do: I took a picture on my iPhone. Later, I felt it didn’t quite capture the alive quality that I hoped I could share with the world. So I doctored it up with my image editing app. It turned out kind of pretty. And friends “liked” it on Facebook.
But it wasn’t the same. And I am okay with that. To be a poet a la Berry is to be in those three-dimensioned moments fully, to not miss them. Later, if you can share an echo, even in two dimensions, that too is okay, as long as you don’t mistake the one for the other.