4744108143_750e5eb416_oOn summer days, my family ventures out to a nearby field in the early morning when the berry branches shine with dew.  “No sense picking the small ones,” the field owner advised as she showed us where and how to pick the juiciest berries. And in keeping with her words, I find myself apologizing to the not yet black or blue fruits I accidentally pick and then have to discard. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” I whisper to these fallen berries, my words the rare human interruption to the quiet morning song of birdcalls and bee buzzes.

I have learned to heed to another piece of fruit-picking advice: No berry bush is at first what she seems. Look high, look low. Finding the fruit requires shifting perspectives, seeing a bush from the front, from the side, from below and from beyond. Observing the bush from these different vantage points yields fruit—what seems at first to be barren reveals clusters of perfect berries when the angle just so slightly shifts.

As I fill my basket, making sure to stretch my views to see as many berries as I can, I wonder about the things I don’t see. The things in life I look at from just one perspective. When I don’t linger long enough to wonder, to discover other possibilities. How many times a day, a minute, do I only see what’s in front of me, without probing past the branches laden with leaves…or a quick burst of human assumption.

What if I looked at life like this—exploring situations and the people in them—as I would a berry bush? What if I didn’t settle for my own assumptions but pushed past the leaves to find berries waiting out of sight? In berry picking, the motivation is simple – to find more berries. With humans, things get more complicated – stopping and seeing requires taking the time to ask questions, to risk probing, to step over lines that might be purposefully in place. And for what? My own reward? So that I can have a fuller perspective? Yes, to a degree. But that incentive alone oftentimes feels flimsy.

But then I flip the story. I imagine someone caring enough to stretch their perspective to see behind and beneath the leaves blocking me from view. To take the time to ask a question instead of forming a quick judgment and calling it a day. This is as valuable to me as to you.

So, that’s it. My resolution to keep on finding berries, beyond the patch. To widen my gaze, to see one moment from as many different angles as I can, to ask questions, to wonder and to try not to pick berries before their time.

Photo: ripening blueberries by liz west/CC BY 2.0