A Winter Occurrence of Great Magnitude

by : Cynthia Ann Kazandjian

image from fanpop: Horton Hears a Who
The alchemy in art is that it allows us to see stars where once we saw dust.
Gabrielle Selz from Alchemy of Art

There’s a notable kangaroo in the 2008 computer-animated comedy film Horton Hears a Who!- a movie based on Dr. Seuss’s book of the same name. Sour Kangaroo, as she is called, challenges Horton the Elephant’s perception and says, “If you can’t see it, feel it, or hear it, it doesn’t exist.”

We all, to varying degrees, have a skeptical kangaroo within us. The disbeliever. A part of us haunted by the times when although we saw it, felt it, and heard it- it still didn’t exist. I’m thinking of romantic entanglements gone sour after the curtain of deception has lifted.

Both fake and real love can entail overwhelming heartbreak. A type of existential disappointment that is especially hard to recover from. Some of us never make it back; we remain die-hard skeptics. And skeptics are more likely to be cynics, and so on it goes- the psychological chain reaction is set in motion. Consequently, a dark and negative mindset hardens the psyche. Our worldview grows rigid and we cut ourselves off from the beauty of beginner’s mind.

This time last year, on an otherwise ordinary day, I found myself behind a massive snow-clearing vehicle. I watched as a Transformer Autobot from the planet Cybertron (because one can never know) sucked up the snow from the ground and blasted it into the adjacent snow loading truck. I went into a trance as my car inched forward at a snail’s pace. But my half-conscious state wasn’t to last long.

When you are not expecting to see something, it takes a little longer for the brain to register the sight of it. Amazingly enough, I spotted a flying maple seed, or a whirling samara, aloft directly above the loading truck. Depending on the force generated by the entering snow, it went up, down, and sideways. This was not something you’d expect to see in the dead of winter. I was enchanted. From my earthly perch, I observed a shooting star. Or to put it differently, my eyes and heart aligned with the poetry of the moment.

online image taken from the Farmers’ Almanac since 1818 website

A samara is known by many names including helicopter, maple’copter, and whirlybird, to mention a few. I wondered how long this mighty samara with agile aerodynamics would last in the air before embedding itself in the hostile snow, as opposed to more seasonally appropriate soil. It lasted longer than I thought it would.

But did this really matter? The mystical relevance is what mattered. Moreover, I felt like I could better identify with Horton’s story in one of my all time favourite movies. A big bonus.

As Horton splashes in a pool, he hears a tiny speck of dust talk to him. Turns out, this speck is in fact a tiny planet; and on this planet microscopic creatures called Whos live in a community called Whoville.

Who knew?

Indeed, magic exists in the eye of the beholder, no matter its relative size or extent. And it expands your world. Horton found what many would have felt too much of a responsibility to handle. Even art, a supernatural force in and of itself, can force you to have new awareness. Sometimes we don’t want to deal with the kind of opportunity, or ability to act differently, that a fresh perception of reality can demand. I say- embrace it like your life depends on it. Because it does.

And maybe, just maybe, there was a planet that existed on the heroic samara that so mesmerized me last winter. Perhaps the beings of this infinitesimal planetoid helped keep the samara from being forgotten beneath the snow, and around long enough to connect with one lucky human soul.