This week as part of an Earth Science’s assignment, my daughter has to go outside and observe the phases of the moon. Once she’s found it in the night sky, she is to draw what she’s seen. Over time, she is expected to see the various waxing and waning phases and presumably draw some conclusions.
On a few occasions, she’s asked me to go outside and see the moon with her, which we’ve thoroughly enjoyed. On my own, when I walk our dog late at night, I often pause to observe the moon myself, marveling at the fact that “we” – as in mankind – have actually gone there.
With this as context, I was – perhaps excessively so – really bummed when my daughter mentioned that several of her classmates haven’t bothered to observe the moon in the sky at all. Instead they have just used google to find what the current phase of the moon is in our local sky and drawn something from the screen in front of them. The reasons for taking this shortcut are a little unclear. Perhaps they were too busy with other homework or an over scheduled life. Maybe it was deemed too cold. Or worse yet, not worth their time.
To observe is to “notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant.” I’m sure we notice all kinds of things in our daily lives, but how often do we take the time to truly register anything we see as being significant?”
Staring up at the sky has registered so many things as such. Not just scientifically but in the worlds or culture, faith, and art (Starry, Starry Night anyone?) In the stars, we have found not just planets or knowledge but ourselves.
The undercutting of observation is not restricted to our classrooms. I was surprised recently to read this article that noted a shortage of astronauts in the U.S. What happened to the days when being an astronaut was the dream job for young people?
Our declining interest in observation is also not limited to space but most spaces we inhabit. How often do any of us stop to look up and observe what’s around us? To register something significant about our friends or family, our neighborhood, our country, and ourselves?
If we don’t take the time to register what is around or within us as significant, then eventually we cease to value, care or nourish any of it. In other words, it all becomes insignificant. This not only endangers our planet and other species but ourselves.
Maybe we can all take the time to truly observe something, anything today. Try and make a habit of it. I hope in doing so, your world will be made all the more significant.