Took this shot in my neighbor’s stunning garden the other day. Beautiful butterfly landing on a lovely flower. As is my usual practice, dove into Google this morning to learn a little more about both before blogging about the image. It’s an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, very common in eastern North America. And it’s a female because of the blue spots on the back of the wing. To attract these females into mating, the male of the species puts forth a pheromone, something akin to a perfume. Interesting what I could glean in 10 seconds, but more remarkable to me was realizing how, a relatively short time ago, I would have had to first travel to the library, and pull down and thumb through a volume from a set of 20 fat encyclopedias.
The flower turns out to be a Lilac bush. Which while reviewing it in Google, reminded me of the famous Whitman poem (When lilacs last in dooryard bloomed …) inspired by Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. I was assigned to read it in high school but today the words resonated more. Thinking about all this president struggled to accomplish, all the divisiveness then. And now.
My musings this morning are not about politics but about change and how it affects us, how aware we are of transformations we are immersed in. Reminds me of a little story by the novelist, David Foster Wallace:
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
With so many of us connected to instant information, are we better off? Are we more informed and open in our beliefs? Are we sometimes wrong but never uncertain? When we do an Internet search that results in 87 thousand hits, do we wonder about what processes selected the links we’re offered? If the algorithm “helps us” to find what we’re interested in based on what searches we’ve done before, are we just fortifying our comfort zone? Does the search engine have a point of view?
A lot to ponder on this rainy June morning while looking at a butterfly on a lilac.