Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Curiosity Mars Rover

On drizzly days when the paths are slick with water it is difficult to become motivated to get out and walk. We turn ourselves inside and breathe warm fuggy air and think inside thoughts that are often not creative. Our ideas come from inside things like Pinterest and Stumble and Facebook- all ideas that are regurgitated like the air we are breathing.

This winter I want to be like Curiosity Mars Rover. I want to explore my planet like a visitor from out of space. I want to sample a bit of everything from every place I go to.
credit NASA
37 years ago I went to Nepal on a trek like hundreds of other lucky uni students. We trekked through villages that probably no longer exist, along ancient pathways that were scented with morning offerings of incense, dung fire smoke, chai and chappatis, mingled with poultry and human excrement softened by the organic smell of mud brick and damp thatching.

All of those sights, sounds and smells are still alive in me even though I only had 120 or so photos. Film was expensive in those days for a poor student and since I had used every cent I had to go on the trip and to buy my hiking boots (Banana Boots were the icon of the day), I had to borrow a camera (an old but brilliant Voigtlander) and carried three rolls of slide film.
credit Wikipedia

I was not a skilful photographer having had no practice before leaving and relied on lessons from other seasoned photographers with me as well as the last minute instructions my father had gleaned from a city photography store. Every photo failure was a personal failure which I didn’t get to experience until some weeks later, after the slides were sent back from the photo lab. I was in essence shooting blind, because there was no digital screen to let me know that I even had the image properly framed.

 I did not waste a single photo on myself to show that I was there. I knew what I looked like and mirrors were for personal images, not expensive film. How different visual images are now with millions of selfies taken every moment of the day and so little intelligence to be gained from the images.


There are discoveries to be made out there and inspiration to be found and added to our human knowledge base in ways we have never had before. But unlike Mars Explorer Curiosity we have the added advantage of human insight which we do not engage enough. If we go out and look at our environment with the eyes of an alien what would we make of what we see?


Large squishy thing washed up on beach.
What would one tiny snapshot of life on earth look like when sent back into space?
In recent years I have discovered that more than half of my friends are aliens in this country. They see the world that I live in with amusement and puzzlement and wonder and I am lucky to have a new perspective on a life I took so much for granted.
So when you think warm, safe and cosy this winter also think stale, blocked and closed and grab an umbrella and sturdy shoes (and maybe a camera) and get out there and shake the cobwebs and shine a torch into some of those unexplored corners of your mind.

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