james david low

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The philosophical implications of stepping on that crunchy looking leaf

Some of you may no that I’ve been trying to slow down a bit recently. I realised that I had become so task focused not people and God focused, was lacking intimacy with people, and it was leading to generally not a very healthy life.

I decided I was going to be drastic, I was not going to use my computer for a week, then I chickened out and decided that was impossible given things at the moment. So I decided no computer before mid day. My habit had been to get up immediately and check my mail, and then start work, and the realise some time around 3pm I hadn’t eaten breakfast.


So the first day came, woke up at as usual sometime just past 7 and I read my bible for 5 minutes, and prayed a little. Looked at my watch, still 4 and a half hours to go, so back to the bible, half an hour of prayer, sitting in a hammock and learning the harmonic minor on guitar, all things I’ve been trying to do for the last 7 years, all because I took a break and slowed down. A week of this, revelations that someone really did design my mobile phone and how there must be a God and a long chilled out argument discussion with Lewis, Lil and Sherin about determinism and in-determinism and I was starting to feel the zest for life I’d been lacking over the past few months. It all culminated in watching Rob Bell’s everything is spiritual on Friday night with Shaun and Janakan, by the end we were just silent, and peaceful, awesome. Yet still more to do, thinking of taking a holiday sometime, maybe somewhere like this.

All this is really just backdrop as to why I was out walking. In trying to keep with taking more time over things, life being a journey, not a destination, I decided to walk down to the shop and by some fruit, but mainly just for the walk. As I walked I noticed I was stepping on everyone of the dried up looking leaves. I reckon I suffer from mild OCD, so I had to step on everyone, but in general we can’t help it can we? The sound its just so…satisfying. 300,000 people on the facebook group can testify to this. Then it dawned on me, there must be a God. There was no other possible explanation.

Now I’m not for second proposing this as a serious argument, but revelation can be found it the strangest of places, and for me it works. I mean why else would I and millions of other people do it? Could it be an instinct of our hunter ancestors, having evolved it as a habit that they would partake of when in a relaxed mood for clearing away debris around there regular hunting grounds, that would then not be present when hunting and thus lessening the likely hood of them making unwanted noise that might give away their location to their prey. I think not. There was much more that I thought as I walked back up the hill tossing my mango up in the air nonchalantly (if that’s even a word), but it escapes me now, I’m sure it would have been mind blowing, but for now thus endeth the lesson of the crunchy looking leaf.

12:51am / Mar 14th / 08
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17 Comments

    That’s great, taking time out to really appreciate life. It’s quite scary how we can live our lives with our eyes closed, so busy with …well nothing all that important really.

    Life is amazing, awesome, God given.
    Discover it, cherish it and enjoy it with our Maker. That’s what we were created to do :)

    5:39am / Mar 14th / 08 Yvonne

    Ok the full title should be "The philosophical implications of stepping on that crunchy looking leaf", but facebook sucks and didn't import the whole thing from my blog.

    9:02am / Mar 14th / 08 James Low (via Facebook)

    Well written, james. I like this note. Hahah nice take on hunters. Also, spelling error right in the first sentence, it's perfect.

    While stepping on leaves may signify a relaxed mood, I think we're all just a little bit destructive, and feeling the results of our ability to extend our power or influence – without harming anything live – is positively satisfying. So that's an alternative. And just cause we're destructive doesn't mean we can't be constructive at the same time. It may sound like I'm just disagreeing for the sake of it, but, yea i might be.

    10:18am / Mar 14th / 08 Sherin Siew (via Facebook)

    I agree. I need to take more time generally…

    Hong Kong moves too fast – and the culture we live in sees taking your time as "wasting" time… and therefore wasting your life.

    And then you feel stretched – like too much butter over too little bread – because you spend all your time doing and not thinking why…

    I get you about the leaf.
    The obvious answer is "they do it because they like it"…
    but that begs the question: why?
    Why do we like doing it?
    Why do we like *enjoying* the world?
    Why do dolphins and dogs play?
    What's so special about the sunrise?
    Or the sunset…? What makes Dawn and Dusk feel different – even though there is the same amount of light in the sky?

    People sometimes call this "God of the Gaps" – but I think this misses the point. We're appealing to everyone's PERCEPTION of nature, and the nature of reality… Its not just scientific. Its not just efficiency. Its not just random.
    There is satisfaction… and, funnily enough…

    10:21am / Mar 14th / 08 James Lewis (via Facebook)

    it comes from stepping on a leaf…

    Life is not about efficiency, or success – or all these other things. Its not even about survival…
    There's this… indefniable "something else"… mystery, myth, fun… that runs as a counterpoint to existance…

    And… we all feel it… and when we do… we feel alive.

    And it looks, smells, tastes, hints at… God.
    That there's meaning – that there's joy – that there's fun – that there's stuff thats unexpected – and means unexpected things to us – that randomness couldnt have thrown up…
    That's not the working of cogs in a machine.

    Its a gift.
    And a gift has to be given.
    And who can give this gift but God?

    10:24am / Mar 14th / 08 James Lewis (via Facebook)

    James, I think I was less using God of the Gaps, but for me the revelation came from the amount of pleasure I received from something so simple. I wasn't a rational, "the best explaination is God", it was revelation at the pleasure.

    Sherin, for me at least, its not about the destruction, I would do it over and over and over again with the same leaf if I could, especially if it was a good one. But its ok if you're disagreeing just for the sake of it because i no (heheheheheheh) that we're just discussing not argueing, and for me discuessing with people I like is the goal, is the journey.

    10:29am / Mar 14th / 08 James Low (via Facebook)

    The Lord God is with you, my friend. “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward,” said Abraham Lincoln.

    There's these bamboo trees near one of the university canteens–the thin little leaves in the wind, the dark and the bright and the dull greens, the tall reeds swaying–the sound of the movement–gentle, and with the sunlight–reflecting and at once transparent. God nudges me, warmly–"I exist!"

    No debates, no arguments here.

    11:11am / Mar 14th / 08 Gabe Boa (via Facebook)

    haha it so is about the destruction. your subconscious told me. And life is a journey.. in a waiting room. Or just waiting in a waiting room/area/planet, finding the floor tiles captivating…

    11:20am / Mar 14th / 08 Sherin Siew (via Facebook)

    or maybe its creative destruction, to help with cycle of life, assist the break down of the leaf to more fundamental components, so that life can be birth from death. hahaha, i think i'm going to puke soon, with the cheesy metaphors for life.

    but how terribly understated to compare the glory of the natural world to the mundane world of commerical interior decorating.

    11:30am / Mar 14th / 08 James Low (via Facebook)

    I know. I was just trying to sketch out some possible rationality behind the feeling.

    12:44pm / Mar 14th / 08 James Lewis (via Facebook)

    i LOVE stepping on crunchy leaves! and i dont think there has to be reason – destructuve or otherwise. i think sometimes its nice to just enjoy doing things just for doing them :) like EATING CHOCOLATE!

    i like this note too, James. i especially love "There was much more that I thought as I walked back up the hill tossing my mango up in the air nonchalantly" (which is indeed a word), very poetic :P

    love love! x

    3:21pm / Mar 14th / 08 Hayley Spiers (via Facebook)

    AWESOME…. I can testify to that *CRRRRRRRRUNNNHCHHH* boy it sends shivers up your spine… hehehehhe

    Its like music to the soul that needs rest.

    Man this is like Eng Lit in Highschool;

    Sherin: I am open to your destructive argument. It may apply to some but not all.

    For me, I think its less about destruction but appreciating the beauty in the small detailed things that matter.

    We all have instincts to want to touch, to smell, to stare, to listen. These instinctive sense when manifested in a good way often draws one to appreciate the beauty of creation- created by God.

    The leaf itself is a creation of God, and even though its dead and lying forlorn on the side of the road, the crunch is a sound that we can appreciate, and incidentally is created by God.

    This is rather similar to Lewis' argument. Just a diluted version without the attachments of complex metaphors. ;-)

    4:04pm / Mar 14th / 08 Lillian Li (via Facebook)

    There are two sides of the coin, to find solace and joy in the appreciation of creation, and the find reassurance and pride in supremacy in destruction.

    Which will you choose?

    4:04pm / Mar 14th / 08 Lillian Li (via Facebook)

    James Low! You can WRITE!

    "but how terribly understated to compare the glory of the natural world to the mundane world of commerical interior decorating."

    Only one typo in 'commercial'!!

    4:05pm / Mar 14th / 08 Lillian Li (via Facebook)

    haha I was thinking '…what's a crunchy loo….?' but I love the note, it's so…peaceful and reassuring and…true! You know how when you are about to step on a crunchy looking leaf…expecting the beautiful crispy 'CRUUUUUUUUUNCH' and it DOESN'T happen?! What is more disappointing than that….like SERIOUSLY.

    I was walking to the driving school the other day (J walking a million streets cos I was late). But it was just such a beautiful day, I wasn't in a rush, I was just…walking with God. And I was talking out loud to myself…no to God and really just enjoying in him and being at peace with everything in that moment. Even though so many things in my life are unsure, I felt that it was ok to be unsure…because in that moment it was so obvious God was listening to me and probably laughing at me seemingly talking to myself. So there was no need to be worried about the unsure. I feel it's somewhat similar to your trip to the fruit store.

    Btw, the li's have a hammock? Awesome.

    6:10pm / Mar 14th / 08 Lydia Lee Tang (via Facebook)

    Lil, i'm not saying it's a choice. We don't necessarily have to choose to be destructive to be destructive. and this is all unrelated to james' note cause he wasn't being destructive. It was just a casual statement, not anything serious. But I was just saying there can be many reasons for feeling satisfaction, both conscious and subconscious. And I agree, We all have instincts to want to touch, to smell, to stare, to listen, to survive. And a lot of the times we don't know why. Like earliest humans on earth, why did they fight so hard to survive?

    6:49pm / Mar 14th / 08 Sherin Siew (via Facebook)

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