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Expectations and Assumptions

r.graham.barrett's picture

As I arrived and settled into  my position on the bench, I did so with some expectations , chief among them was that I was going observe a huge amount of change in observations in comparison to my last week two weeks ago .  I expected this change to be part of the ongoing and inevitable march of autumn into winter.  In some ways this was true as there was not one uniform color scheme for the leaves in the visible tree line, I had a much better view of Haverford Road from angles and positions previously covered by foliage and there were absolutely no birds in sight or within earshot. These observations of autumn though seemed overshadowed by several observations that suggested that seasonal transitional wasn’t transitioning as fast as I thought they might/should. The most notable observation to back this up was that it was HOT sitting on the bench, as the temperature was pretty high, the sunlight was bearing down on the bench directly, with no tree shade or clouds and hardly any wind to cool the area down. Also in comparison to bird life which had been nonexistent, the area surrounding the bench was filled with insect life, and I found myself swarmed by bees, lady bugs, and gnats  (due to the isolation I guess I was the only living thing in the area they could swarm to) as well as observing spider web-like silk threads drifting by on what little wind there was and clinging to anything they touched. As I sat there taking it all in and sweating profusely (I was heavily regretting wearing jeans at the at point ), I thought about how I asserted my ideas of what to expect onto my observations and I realized I had let those expectations jade my way of thinking . As I realized my expectations had left me surprised at what I actually did observe and it got me thinking it of why I had made certain assumptions about what to expect. In the large part I believe I made assumptions about the weather conditions based on what I remember weather conditions to be like in October growing up in the Philadelphia area and my assumption about the condition of tree color and number of leaves being based on the condition of trees I had passed by earlier on. What I realized then, is that I had made these assumptions and by extension the expectations based on a supposed human arrogance of being able to predict what exactly the conditions will be like in a certain time of the year based on previous years’ experience. The problem with this arrogance though is that the predictions are made with the expectation that nature will always follow a set pattern, all the while forgetting that one of the key attributes of nature and the conditions it generates are random and thus are unpredictable. Observation making on the bench I realized should not have a basis on expectations and observations, for they will ultimately are going to be usurped by the unexpected observations, and perhaps for the better as a result.