fold me a microscope, and the enoughs

Google Manu Prakash and his 50-cent origami microscope, the very same one which may well help bring about an end to malaria, or at least an infinitely more accessible and practical way of treating it. Creating. Making. Letting your mind run free and unfettered and not discarding the simple, because it is often there where true innovation and brilliance lies.

Simplicity. Looking with new eyes at what is before us…

microscope

I’m often struck with the curious commercialization of practices so inherent in our very being… mindfulness, meditation, physicality, sensuality, caring for ourselves and those we love, keeping our minds sharp and curious, our bodies strong and healthy.

It seems we are often, in today’s world, told that we know very little unless we pay someone to teach it to us, that we are incapable of figuring things out for ourselves, of experimenting, of crafting our own lives in the ways that work best for us, can best benefit others, that fit our circumstances. We must quantify, document, prove our worth via frameworks established by others.

I’m certainly not immune to this. There have been many moments when I felt that twinge of fear, of panic, that I didn’t know how, or wasn’t goodenoughstrongenoughbeautifulenoughsmartenough. The enoughs, you know… My life is paved with good intentions, and discarded resolutions, and starts and stops.

But one thing I’ve always known is how to learn and, leaving home quite young, I learned early on how to forge on and figure things out, how to learn by observing, to teach myself or find someone to teach me what I instinctively knew was necessary, what I was curious about, what was vital. Living in other cultures hones that skill, wipes away all that we thought we knew and opens our eyes to perhaps what we never knew or we knew all along, but now see in a different way.

To be receptive, we must relax…

Food becomes a pleasure, cooking a form of joy and fascination, once we realize we don’t need recipes, that we don’t need a sign to tell us what is good or ripe, when we use our noses and our fingers, our eyes, our tastebuds. Our bodies know what is good or bad, and when we put aside charts and packages and just cook, just eat, real food, all falls into place.

Physical expression, in all its forms, is a pleasure, not a task, when we allow our bodies to do what is natural, what feels right. No tools required.

We might bend ourselves in prayer or rest on crossed legs in meditation, repeat sacred words whose meaning we may or may not even know, but we might also stretch our arms high and gaze out to sea, or curl under an oak tree and watch an ant navigate its grassy bed. We can use our strong arms to knead bread as the yeast tickles our nostrils, chase a dog around a yard, or simply sit and watch a child at play, or a thousand people crossing a city street.

We can fix things, and make things, and create in a thousand ways and we do, and we should, and we must have the humility to know that what we make is simple and good and does not have to be the best or the greatest, to make us rich or famous, to win us a prize or a feature here or there. We can use our fingers to stroke or to peel or to…knit, yes knit! But really all that we are doing is expressing who we are, and meditating, and stretching our minds and our muscles, and being ourselves.

I love this video, because it is not just about knitting, or crafting (just $9.95 for the new hot magic loom!), but about being. It is not just for the old or young, but for all, a riff on what it means to create, to live.

(Thank you, Krista Tippett, for your piece on this, here.)

Now, back to that microscope. How I would love to know when and where this idea came to its creators. Perhaps watching a child fold a paper, or remembering how to make a kite or a flying airplane… who knows? It is often in the simple, the humble, where true innovation lies.

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