Ze plane! Ze plane!

A modern-day, real-life observation-esque parable:

My young daughter was at the park when she pointed to the sky and said “Look! An airplane!” Now we had flown recently, so she had been eagerly pointing out every plane she saw ever since. This time, however, we couldn’t see any plane.

We tried to patronize her–“Yes, honey, that’s nice”–but she was onto us. She insisted there really was a plane. We looked everywhere, eventually sighting down her arm like a gun barrel before my spouse noticed a tiny dark speck in the sky that was decidedly plane-shaped and definitely not a bird.

“Wow,” my spouse reflected aloud, “she really has great eyes!”

“Hmmmm,” I thought, “there’s something to learn here.”

I have long been accused of thinking too much, and I confess in advance that is the case here.

I remembered learning somewhere along the way that due to minuscule defects of the retina and cornea, we only see something like 80% of what we think we see.  The rest of it our brain automatically photoshops for us based on the surrounding colors/textures/brightness/etc.

I started wondering whether or not my spouse and I really saw the plane to begin with.  Perhaps our brains, I wondered, conditioned by decades of “fixing” our vision, saw a tiny black speck in the sky and colored it blue to “correct” it. Perhaps my daughter’s brain–still raw and forming–isn’t as “good” at replacing those defective areas of our sight; as far as her brain goes, she could see ANYTHING in the sky. The possibilities for her are endless.

How limited are the possibilities I can see? How many planes are colored over because they don’t fit the constraints of my expectations? What else do I miss because I am too grown-up, too well educated, too stuck in my ways?

Rogue thoughts on the playground…