This morning we find a Tomato Hornworm on our tomato plants. These bugs are huge and yet so difficult to see. They almost perfectly resemble the background leaves and stalks.
I’m staring at the plants, and all I see are leaves and tomatoes. But when my entomologist friend comes by, she spots the camouflaged creature immediately.
I can’t see anything.
I look harder, burying myself in tomato leaves. Finally, I see another one. I almost have to cross my eyes and squint to distinguish the bug from the plant. It feels like I’m in some Magic Eye book.
I had this 3D Magic Eye poster in college. In 1993, you could go to shopping malls and look at these posters to find the hidden pictures within them. There were stereograms, or more specifically, autostereograms.
A stereogram is an optical illusion of depth created from a flat, two-dimensional image. The point is that another image exists buried deep within the other. This poster, for example, hides glasses within it. I would stare until my eyes ached as I tried to get that image to pop out of the poster. It drove me nearly crazy to think that something was really there, but I couldn’t perceive it. It infuriates me like those Tomato Hornworms that are really there–devouring my plants–and escaping my perception. My eyes fail me over and over again.
How many things hide within my reality that I don’t perceive? And how many things do I discount as real simply because they dwell outside of the realm of visual perception? Tomato Hornworms and autostereograms are two reasons why I’m willing to believe in what I cannot always see.
I’m sure that living with flair has something to do with stereograms and seeing beneath the surface of things.
(Tomato Hornworn, courtesy of Whitney Cranshaw, CSU, bugwood.org)