Thursday, February 24, 2011

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well...

"Good morning," said the little prince.

"Good morning," said the merchant.

This was a merchant who sold pills that had been invented to quench thirst. You need only swallow one pill a week, and you would feel no need of anything to drink.

"Why are you selling those?" asked the little prince.

"Because they save a tremendous amount of time," said the merchant. "Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."

"And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?"

"Anything you like..."

"As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water."
I've always liked this short chapter (entire above) from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. It nicely captures the spirit of the book: You don't have to go frantically gallivanting all over the place looking for satisfaction; the greatest miracles are as close as your own front porch.

And speaking of miracles on the front porch, how about this morning glory plant of my spouse. A tiny seed placed in a pot. A seed with all the information necessary to send this plant four feet up its pole, twining, as always, with a right-hand screw, and popping out a flower every day or two, the design of each leaf and blossom implicit in the seed.

All of that is miracle enough, but here's what occupied my mind for fifty-three minutes this morning. This plant has the slenderest vine of any morning glory I have ever seen. Hardly thicker than sewing thread. And all those molecules needed to make a leaf or blossom are pumped up out of the pot through that thread, four feet into the air. Pumped up and pieced together. A leaf. A blossom. And not just any leaf or blossom, but a morning glory leaf and blossom. And not just any morning glory, but a Star of Yalta morning glory.

OK, OK. Big deal. It's happening all around us. An ant. An osprey. A human baby. What's so remarkable about a morning glory? Well, nothing really. Which is why we go through life oblivious of the miracles that confront us on every side. We are so immersed in the astonishing we don't take the time to be astonished.