What does a sparrow see? Science can explain how a sparrow sees colour, movement and so on, but it can’t relay the actual experience of seeing. You’d need a sparrow gifted with the ability to describe what it sees in a language better than, “Chirp, chirp,” for a human to understand.
We can imagine and simulate birdlike seeing with drones, skydiving and literature, but the experience itself: of bird seeing, as bird in bird form within bird reality, is unavailable to us. The same holds true for other animals and people too.
It’s like the chorus to Nik Kershaw’s song that goes, “Wouldn’t it be good to be in your shoes, even if it was for just one day. And wouldn’t it be good, if we could wish ourselves away. Wouldn’t it be good to be on your side, the grass is always greener over there. And wouldn’t it be good, if we could live without a care” (Wouldn’t It Be Good). Of course Nik is singing about wanting to be in the shoes of a lover and sparrows don’t normally wear shoes; nevertheless, a feeling of dissatisfaction with one’s life is common.
Wanting to be as free as a sparrow is pretty universal. They look so happy. “What is that?” asks an old man. “A sparrow,” says his son lacking patience. Some might think, “Wouldn’t it be good to be a sparrow? Zipping from tree to tree! Eat a seed and you’re good for the day.” That may be so. To be free is beautiful, but then again, it’s all fun and games until you fly into a picture window.
Scientists can explain the mechanics of eyeballs: how they function and how to fix them, but in terms of perception – the link between world “out there” as taken in by eyeballs, and the mind’s interpretation of that world – science can’t say.
It’s a bit like the sparrow scenario. Nobody but you can see what you see. You are a kind of sparrow, but one without wings, without a beak, without feathers or bird feet.
Science can identify your species and proclivities but not your mystery. Nobody but you knows what it’s like to be you and even then, you hardly notice.
Think about what you see. As you walk, arms not swinging, looking at your feet, eyes glazed like donuts, imagine that you’re in a silent helicopter or a balloon looking down at landscapes far away and small.
It feels like there are third person things down there and all around and digging deeper into the experience of being, you observe a strange first person phenomena where you are the one looking.
We each think of ourselves as a subject in a world of objects. We think we have an inner stream of consciousness that babbles, sometimes turbulent, sometimes calm, but are you in the stream, the stream itself or the one looking at the stream?
Are you the inner story you tell yourself?
The trick to enjoyment isn’t in self-absorption. It’s the opposite. It’s in going outward. Don’t ask yourself how you should move. Step forward and let the world move through you. Don’t second guess what you say, speak from your heart.
Mick Jagger said a mouthful at the buffet when he said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.”
When you’re in the world without thought for gain or advantage, with humility and humour, you don’t feel self-conscious. When you’re in the moment, your inner story drops away and your consciousness and self-consciousness is gone (Hubert Dreyfus, 2013).
Science tells us we perceive only reflected colours. Red is not “in” an apple. An apple reflects wavelengths that we see as red with our light receptors. Our eyes and brain together “translate light into colour” (How Do We See Color). Reality is a merging of world and interpretation.
In the immortal words of Arsenio Hall who while driving in his car one day pondered certain thoughts and referred to them as “things that make you go hmm…” inspiring the C + C Music Factory to sing the same, so too we explore things that make us go hmm, except instead of singing about infidelity, we sing of coincidence and connection, of links in chains between what we see and do and what is seen and done. We enjoy.
No special powers are required to experience beauty. Enjoy peace and looking without knowing. Forget who you think you are. Answers to the deepest questions like, “What’s it all for?” are in the lives we lead. Observe your unfolding.
There is a double vision between self and situation. Inside and outside are two sides of one coin. You see through a massive window, not as a thing inside. The world out there comes inside with each step you take forward.
Ideas in this unhurried mental receptacle are fuzzy; fuzzy like a pussy willow is fuzzy; fuzzy like a little yellow duckling that goes, “Peep. Peep. Peep.”
And, like a peeping fuzzy duckling, your life is nature’s music without notation.
The trick to enjoying the life you’re in is to sing with humble tickled amusement a melodious duck song.