Or so it seems.
And yet, when I place this same slight round ball under a microscope, an entirely different world becomes visible. Suddenly, the once sleek surface offers up something new. Jagged edges. Mountainous crags. Ditches. Craters. Veins. Magnified, the surface is now so uneven and disordered that I find myself blinking with surprise. And there is only one doorway out of this broken-up universe: to abandon the close-up view.
Sure enough, as soon as I take my eye away from the magnifying lens, the marble reappears, smooth as ever. Gleaming and orderly; a perfect sphere once again.
Of course there are times when we need to magnify something; the microscope and telescope are primary tools for observing the nature and makeup of matter. But in this instance I wasn't thinking about the useful functions of a microscope; I was noticing how easily magnification can distort our overview.
And the distortion occurs instantly; with the flick of an eye.
Just like in everyday life. You and I both know that we humans magnify stuff mentally all the time, and with not very happy results. We grab hold of lifebits and blow them up. We enlarge small incidents until our heads wobble and we have lost all perspective: it's called making a mountain out of a molehill. We magnify feelings into obsessions. We magnify a set of experiences or events into a rigid belief. We magnify insults. We magnify fears. We magnify differences.
Let's say we are magnifying a simple irritation. Here's how we proceed: gluing one eye tight to our mental microscope, we go over every inch of the occurance; poring over its enlarged veins and landscape until it is embedded fever-like in our consciousness. Then, completely forgetting to remove our eye from the enlarging lens, we now move around in real space wearing the over-sized irritation around our neck like a pendant.
And when I say we have forgotten to look up from the microscope, I'm not kidding. In this mode, our mind is out to lunch: we forget we are looking closeup at the cells and veins of a small bit of life. We are lost; the irritation -- once a small and hapless flicker in life's journey -- is now so huge it has become the engine in our day. The car is driving us.
Of course, all it takes to brings things back to normal is to quick-step back from the magnifying agent and take a long, broad look at the whole landscape. Zap! The overblown bit is restored to its proper size again; we take a deep breath and maybe a deep sigh, and remember flyspecks are flyspecks.
Relief floods over us now; it was all a bad dream. How could a flyspeck possibly drive us nuts?
I mean: unless we let it.