The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. – Emerson
Not a day passes when I do not witness something miraculous. Since I was a small boy I have marveled at this world of ours. My earliest memory was retrieved through meditation. I was only a few months old lying in my crib. The room on the side of the house was in shadows and I was just waking. Floating above me there were birds on a mobile – red and blue, as I recall. Through the bars I could make out that one of my siblings was standing there. Later I described this scene to my mother, and she verified the accuracy and was shocked I could remember so far back.
Since childhood I have been attracted to stones, textures and odd discarded objects. My grandfather gave me a small wooden box to keep my “treasures” in. I have kept this box with me for decades before it was broken as I carried it home from China, after twelve years. But the priceless treasures remain with me – now added to my much larger collection of souvenirs from life. As you can see in this photo, contrasting textures have always caught my eye. I find some textures nearly irresistible – especially wood, fabric and paper. On my first trip to China back in 2003, I visited a small art store looking for good paper and a fine brush. The variety of paper was astonishing which is to be expected in the country that invented paper nearly two thousand years ago.
When I saw samples of ancient paper in a museum in Xi’an, my eyes welled up with tears at the longevity and fragility of the glorious fragments. My eyes are attracted to possible tactile sensations. One does not have to touch something to experience it – I repeated the following to kids I have taught over the years – “See with your eyes and not your hands.” But I would relent and allow them to touch and stroke whatever I was teaching them about – rocks, cloth, books, coins… Upon seeing something unfamiliar they would invariably sniff, and sometimes taste the objects of their curiosity. This insatiable inquisitiveness is perhaps the origin of “cabinets of curiosities” that led to modern day museums. Millions of people wander museum galleries each and every day seeking wisdom.
Raising my three children alone, I turned our home into a place for exploration. We filled shelves and drawers with miraculous artifacts of our time together – as they grew up. I have always been a very sentimental person. Luckily, having the foresight to preserve their priceless objet d’art of paper, rock, glitter, crayon… has granted me peace of mind and touches of wisdom over the years. Sometimes, as I wander the beach alone, I laugh at the wonders of life’s journey and afterwards say a prayer for all those who have appreciated the textures of my soul. Reach out and touch the miracles all around you.
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