Annie Dillard has a way of seeing the world. It’s different, unique. She doesn’t see the world as the rest of us do. For that matter, none of us see the world quite the same as anyone else. We all see a different world. Our unique personal experiences, encounters, interactions, thoughts, and relationships intersect to create who we are. In reference to this week’s essay, our lives lend us all a distinct lens through which we view life. All of my interpretation thus far is based solely on an analysis of the title. That just goes to show how thought provoking a well-crafted title can be.
Moving on to interpret the text, something I appreciate about Lenses is how Annie Dillard juxtaposes macro and microscopic organisms. In her account, Dillard seamlessly entangles the two. At one moment she is looking at two swans flying above the marsh grasses, and the very next she is seeing microscopic algae and whizzing rotifers. To me, this shows how relative size is. Rotifers are small in relation to swans, and swans are small in relation to the universe. In accordance with this argument, we are as infinitesimally tiny as rotifers.
Is it disconcerting to realize how small you truly are? For me, this realization creates a sense of extraordinary disempowerment. How can I, a lone rotifer wallowing in the immensity of the universe, hope to instigate any lasting change in the world? Luckily my sense of disempowerment is coupled with a sense of profound liberation. If I truly embrace my irrelevance then the universe’s burden is lifted from my shoulders. I do not have to do it all. I can settle for small changes. I can relax and enjoy the world.
I readily admit that Annie Dillard may not have intended for her essay to be interpreted this way. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. It all ties back into the title- lenses. I interpreted the essay in a way that is meaningful to me. I saw what I needed to see at this point in my life. And that’s the beauty of writing. It is open to interpretation.