2014-2015 Essay Contest Winner: Keiley James

Keiley James, 16
Honorable Mention, 15-16 Age Group
St. Pius X Catholic High School
Atlanta, Georgia

"To See and to Register"

Henry David Thoreau says, “Many an object is not seen, though it falls within the range of our visual ray.”  Human beings tend to wander through life blindly, but they have their eyes open.  They are constantly taking in information about their surroundings, but they do not register all of the details.  Subconsciously, humans cannot help it because this is a survival instinct that people are born with. They register what is important but they throw out the details and the things that they deem insignificant in order to protect them from immediate dangers. If people are always distracted with details, they worry they will miss the big picture, but sometimes the big picture can be found in the details.

The picture Cooler and Jeans, Walden Pond by Oscar Palacio looks like a simple photograph of a pair of jeans and a cooler. Because these stand out in the picture, the background almost disappears. The background, however, makes the picture whole. The background is a blurry, cool, greenish, blueish, greyish hue, or so it seems at first. After eliminating the distraction of the attention-grabbing foreground and inspecting the photograph closer, I notice a warm looking patch of sunshine to the bottom right of the cooler, almost adding a little bit of yellow to the photograph. I see the water behind the detailed rocks that I almost did not catch, and the green leaves of all shapes and sizes. The beauty of the whole photograph is almost overlooked due to the distraction of the foreground.

I work at a horse barn. There are always so many chores that I have to do before the end of the day so we can keep our horses happy and healthy. Stalls have to be picked, hay has to be thrown, horses have to be fed, groomed, turned out, and ridden, water buckets have to be filled, and so on. I do these chores almost every day mechanically. I do not lift my eyes from my work until everything is done and I go home, but the other day, I looked up. I was in the middle of cleaning a stall when I looked into my horse, Timmy’s eye. With one glance, the eye just looks brown. But when I really looked at it, what I saw amazed me. My horse’s eye is an explosion of color. I noticed darker browns, lighter browns, almost black-browns, and magnificent flecks of gold, and that is only in his iris! His pupils are very dark blue, almost black, and in the middle of his pupil, there is a floating cloud of dark brown. It almost looks like smoke from a fire and it appeared to be coming towards me. The detail of the eye blew me away. For my entire life, I have been missing this unique, gorgeous phenomenon of something that has been in front of me the whole time.

I see horses and their eyes every day, but I had never thought to look into them. Now that I have looked deeply into the eye of my horse I have a new profound respect for the intricacies and nuances of the animal that I love so dearly. The detail of his eye makes me wonder about the details and complexities of the rest of my horse. Thoreau says, “... So in the largest sense, we find only what we look for.” If we are not registering what we see, at any given moment we can miss the immeasurable beauty of the details around us.

 

 See past winners