There is a wild blackberry bush growing in my front yard. It is actually somewhat hidden at this point, located as it is at the corner of the house behind some of the foundation plantings. It won't remain hidden for long as it will grow larger in time and it needs to be moved.
Moving the bush isn't a problem. I am beginning the process of landscaping the side and back yards. I live at the end of the street, at the edge of the woods, and Iike the ideas of mixing blackberries into the more formal landscape, of finding some symbiosis between the wild and the more civilized.
But it strikes me that I hadn't even noticed it was there until it was pointed out to me. I stand mere feet from that bush every day as I unwind the hose, water plants, wind the hose back up again. How could I fail to notice something so different from the surrounding shrubbery? Easily as it turns out. The truth is that I had seen the blackberries: I had noticed the blossoms, different as they are from the adjacent bush and I had even noticed the bright red berries foming. But my mind wasn't attending to what my eyes were telling me. Beyond that brief flash of acknowledgement, that brief passing awareness, I had payed no attention at all. I was too busy counting off the steps to "what next" to pay any attention to what was right in front of me.
How much of life do we see and not see simultaneously? I suspect more than we care to admit. How much of what is really valuable in life do we miss by not being present, wrapped up as we are with tasks, and lists, and schedules, our minds focused on "what next" rather than "enjoy now"? Does striking one more item off our To Do lists really make life more meaningful? Is there some reward for having been busier and done more? Is the meaning of life defined by one large tally sheet in the sky? Increasingly I am not convinced.
A blackberry bush seems so unimportant. And yet it is not. The blackberry bush is a gift. More than a gift, it is an invitation to stop for a moment, take a few steps out of one's way, and enjoy a blackberry or two or three, sweet and warmed by the sun, perhaps to share a blackberry with someone else; it is an invitation to open our eyes to those precious little things that are truly important in life, and to escape for a moment, the tyranny of that large tally sheet that so occupies our minds.