My First BCI Session – "Be, Contemplate, Imagine"
Updated: Sep 4, 2021
09/01/2021 – My Backyard in Portland, OR
Last night the temperature got down into the 40s although it is currently low 50s. It's early in the morning and the sun is rising as I complete this assignment. The moon has yet to disappear into the light. The sky is quickly transitioning from a cool-warm ombre to clear blue dashed with streaky clouds.
Focus & Intent
For this first BCI session, I familiarized myself with the process of observing nature as a designer and practiced tapping into all my senses.
Beginning this exercise early in the morning was challenging at first, but ultimately a wonderful way to start the day. I sat in the middle of my backyard among the brown grass that while usually crinkly this time of year, was soft and saturated with morning dew. The air was cool, but wrapped in my favorite sweatshirt, it was quite pleasant. The fresh scent reminded me of new beginnings and the hope of a brand new day ahead. As I sat with my eyes closed, my first thoughts revolved around my energy level as I tried not to fade back into a sleepy dream state. Wandering thoughts of going to work when I finished krept creeping in so I turned my attention to how I physically felt. My limbs draped heavy at my sides, my head bowed, as I moved my focus to each little sound arriving in my consciousness. There was a comfortable stillness about the world and each sound was distant and fleeting. A couple birds chirped somewhere else in the neighborhood and a train tapped on its horn in the distance.
Upon opening my eyes, the first thing I noticed were birds soaring high above from treetop to treetop. The light was already brighter than when I first sat down, illuminating my yard. I decided to thoroughly observe the plum tree in my neighbor’s yard whose limbs spill over the fence on my side. The tree grows right along the fence line, and likely existed before the fence itself. The tree looks burdened by fruit as the branches droop, some nearly touching the ground. It makes me think of human imposed boundaries, since the tree does not recognize the purpose let alone the existence of the fence. The development of the plums has been a marker of summer as I’ve watched the fruit replace the flowers that once dotted the branches. The plums have continued to grow and ripen in waves for what feels like months now, but is likely only a small handful of weeks. As much as I love the plums, I know I’m not alone. Many afternoons I’ve watched the birds and squirrels take off with seemingly oversized fruit. When picking plums for myself, I also have to check that a bug hasn’t gotten to it first. They are especially helpful in breaking down the fruit as it decomposes at the edge of my lawn and eventually returns to soil. The fruit I am able to pick connects me to larger social systems as I often bake desserts that I share with friends.
Having an open imagination element for this assignment led me to picturing the early morning routines of little critters that I might not be seeing. I imagined cozy creatures tucked in their dens, just waking up and still a little groggy. I imagined the bees being overjoyed to sip their morning breakfast of nectar from the flowers as if they were fulfilling the equivalent of a human coffee fix. As I looked up at the wisps of clouds, I imagined how soft they might feel as a blanket gently draped over my shoulders. My final thoughts and musings revolved around a utopian society where I could bask in nature observation as long as I wanted and didn’t have to leave for work.