In Defense of Looking into Puddles

“Look up!”

This wide spread message encourages us to stop plodding through life and gaze above us, looking for the wonders and beauty of the world. This also may be a passive aggressive way of telling people to stop texting and walking at the same time. In any case, there are people who desire to pull others from their own individualized realities and expand their worlds to see what is greater than themselves and their own achievements.

However, the limitless range of seeming impossibilities can become a hopeless and daunting view.

Our own needs, our own goals, and everything else that forms our own personal horizon are so ingrained in us that we need to keep most of it intact. Not to say that looking up every once and a while will shatter our life but the vast world beyond our own is a lot to look at and examine. Looking up to something greater than yourself and your world, struggling through lofty ideas, and striving towards high-mindedness pulls you away from simple jokes and causes you to disdain frivolity, perhaps even to the point of missing out on the little joys of silliness.

The greatness we should aspire to is not always palatable. We are small creatures with potential, it takes a while for our eyes to become adjusted to this glinting glory of the world above us. When looking up, you will also doubtlessly see all those who look down upon you, frowning on your bewilderment at trying to comprehend the expanse of reality. Again, a helpful but discouraging sight.

Lest the boundless grandeur of the sky be forever out of reach, I propose we find ways to see more of the world when we look down into our own worlds. The worlds we have already built and are already familiar with. Let us open the portals from our personal worlds into the majesty of reality and potential.

I wish to spread my own command: “Look into puddles”.

Every puddle can become a small world. We can see it all with one glance, or simply ignore it, but perhaps we stop to look at our reflection and maybe even a little more of what is there other than ourselves. It is a looking glass through the new blurry eyes of nature that gives us a window from our own small worlds into a bit of the wonders and beauty accessible to every person who happens upon it.

If you are looking out for these reflecting pools, you my also see things below you that would have otherwise been missed. Perhaps you take notice of the clean edges of grass along a well-kept lawn, or the occasional interesting set of cracks in the pavement. You may also see worms in the puddles, which are rather fascinating. Going out for a walk in the springtime, “the puddle hunting season”, there are many such chances to throw yourself into thinking or to simply admire the fuzzy person that looks back at you. I wonder if nature laughs at our self obsession and gave us these natural mirrors to humble us.

Each puddle is different. The jagged or smooth edges form unique frames for these mirrors of an upside down reality. There is no one picture displayed in them; different angles, a change in lighting, and you yourself can give these small portals a personal image of this new piece of reality. Jump into the world and make it a new one, enjoy the simple pleasure of splashing around in puddles and making new ones.

It is a bit strange, using nature to do something unnatural, seeing what is up by looking down.

What you see in puddles can never be seen again.

No person is your specific height, looks in the same way, or has the same interest (or lack thereof) in what lies at your feet. Shouldn’t we cherish these moments of defying reason and what seems rational? In its own way it is a frivolous way of doing something meaningful. Our eyes must be meant for more than being shut in meditation of the greatness we can never fully understand, staring into the sun certainly does not illuminate reality (maybe for brief moment).

Within the limits of these contained pools, there are boundaries on how far you need to look, but there is no end to their depth, the height of the upside down world above you. Puddles can be the fracture in our reality, opening new worlds of thought and wonder. They split the factual world despite being natural themselves. As a matter of fact, they are often formed due to the imperfections of man’s unnatural imposition on nature, sidewalks and roads. However, majestic glassy pictures can be seen in those places formed for that purpose: the small ponds, great lakes, oceans, and even some rivers. But I would encourage people to skip those, or at least to not abandon the sludgy pools of city puddles. There is majesty enough surrounding the great bodies of water; let us allow these insignificant puddles some beauty as well.

In conclusion, we are mere humans pursuing God who is greater than our intellect can imagine, ruling the world that is infinitely more beautiful, greater, and boundless than our minds can comprehend. How then could we hope to enter in, or even to want to leave our own worlds and search for something surpassing ourselves? Puddles are one of the small joys and blessings God has given to mankind, to allow men and women to accidentally be drawn out of their own world and glimpse into another.

We can see out of our own selves through these small windows into the murky but promising shadows that stir within us the longing and deep desire to go beyond our own capacities and the limits we have given ourselves. Even if we only see an imperfect reflection of ourselves, is that not the starting point to perceiving our weaknesses and wanting change? Peering into puddles gives us the promising twinkle of beauty and mystery without being pushed to plunge into the endless expanse of the heavens. Look down, look yourself in the eye, and smile.

Let’s start a movement!

Post your own glorious puddles with

#puddlesofwonder and #commonplaceliving.

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Maria Nicklaus

is student at the University of Mary studying Philosophy & Business Administration. She works as a resident assistant but also loves working with the elderly. Having grown up in Minnesota, she loves going outside to take walks & have conversations with friends. She also enjoys piano & writing letters.