In the great collapse of the year, I have found an anchor in noting and recording the details of the world.
And I think maybe the best part of that practice is knowing I will never understand the significance of those details.
Now I suppose it is possible I may be victim of a certain kind of nihilism that keeps me from find any meaning in acts or objects or people.
But, it also may be that I find in my observations the kind of exclusive attention that blots out ultimate concerns.
For example, I find that the more fallen leaves I count, the less I know about summer and autumn. The number of leaves, it turns out (or so I believe), has nothing to do with understanding or with truth or with happiness.
And sometimes it seems that the multiplication of observations simply takes me down a blind road that ends nowhere. At a certain point, science and facts and material stability are pulled up, are scattered and lie about the ground like…well, like fallen leaves.
Giving up the control I guard so tightly, abandoning the passion for making sense, allowing my heart to follow my eyes that follow here - then there - the last remnants of late fall, I see things just as they are. I see that understanding and not understanding might be the same.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of early winter. In the meantime, count the fallen leaves around you. Maybe you won’t understand. Maybe you will.