Scale of the Unexpected

The warmth of the sun through this eastern side of the morning train is a welcome source of spring promise today. Passengers climb on wearing every kind of dress, parkas to shorts, all trying to plan for wide temperature swings during these lengthening days. For me, the return from the warmth of South Africa, its landscape, and all that I saw, has been a wide journey also. The unexpected opportunity of the trip has caused me to think often about the journey and the place of the “unexpected” in our lives.

And the varying scale. We live at a particular scale as we head into each day and do the work that lies before us. It’s a human, walking forward, maybe falling back a step or two kind of scale. But there are many, many scales, and many forms of the unexpected. Are we resilient enough for them all? The large scale of an across-the-ocean trip was humbling, but when I saw a bald eagle fly over the river yesterday, I also felt some smallness, some humility, and was also taken by surprise.

Later that afternoon I watched proceedings on a much smaller scale: my son pipetting tiny, microliter amounts of chemicals into tiny, tiny capped beakers in order to run PCRs to look for DNA of bacteria. And just now, when I glanced up at the electronic billboard to check on the status of the incoming train, I realized today’s date of 4 10 14 when read right to left gives the same date, a numerical palindrome, I suspect (and probably not a surprise to those who follow such things). Small things, small signs, small thoughts.

All this is to say I guess surprises large and small come upon us all as we try to keep moving forward, day in and day out. It’s good for us to keep our eyes open for the small moments, and realize the micro-and macro-events going on around us all the time.


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