Just Shelley


had a nice long walk at Tower Grove park today. The conditions were about perfect: sunshine, cold, and soft white snow. I must be a simple woman, with simple tastes, because there are few things I enjoy more than a winter walk. Few people were about, so I could stop as I wished and explore and make comments to myself, and to the squirrels and birds, without attracting strange looks.

The day was ideal for thinking, and as I was walking, I found myself thinking about frog vision. And filters.

A frog’s visual system is genetically specialized for prey detection and will not respond to any other stimuli. A frog could starve to death surrounded by dead flies because it literally doesn’t see them — they’re not moving. The frog’s vision is filtered to only see objects of a certain size moving at a specific speed. Only these circumstances will cause the cells within the frog’s eyes to fire and generate a reaction — tongue whipping out at the prey.

Unfortunately, any dot of the right size moving at the right speed will trigger this reaction, including a plane flying by overhead.

The human visual system is much more sophisticated, but people are just as capable of filtering; the only difference is that human filtering is deliberate rather than being based on genetics. So you all can go outside and look at planes without feeling the impulse to whip your tongue out. Well, most of you.

As I walked through the snow today, and looked into the diamond-bright powdered depths, I was thinking to myself that there were people out in the world at this very moment with an internalized set of criteria that effectively filters me out. In some cases, the filter rejects me as a love interest; in others a friend; in still others, an employee.

Still, the sun continues to shine and the snow remains cold and beautiful, and I love winter walks just as much. I hope I will love and be loved in return, and that I and my lover will count ourselves lucky. I hope I will like and be liked in return, and I and my friends will count ourselves lucky.

And I hope I’ll win the lottery, and then will no longer care what people think of me in the workplace.


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