Are You Seeing Things?

A bird in flight in your latte. An elephant in the clouds. An eye peering back at you from a plank of wood?

We took an impromptu trip to the Longhorn Cavern State Park this weekend. I’ve always been fascinated by caves and visited this one several years ago, but this time, scenes of the discovery of the caverns and the stories of Indians, kidnapped hostages and Texas Ranger rescues played out like a movie in my mind as our tour guide expounded on the history of this amazing Texas landmark.

Shortly after entering the mouth of the cavern, a stone figure stood perched on a rock to one side. The guide explained that “Rocky” was a formation carved by the rushing water of the underground river that formed the caverns. He asked the tour group what they saw in the stone and most of us agreed it looked like a dog. An abstract interpretation, no doubt, but a dog just the same.

Then our guide introduced a new word into my vocabulary. It turns out, many of us experience a condition known as Pareidolia, defined by Wikipedia as ” The tendency or perception to impose meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual, so that one sees an object, pattern or meaning where there is none. “

It can also extend to audible experiences in some, as when people believe they hear hidden messages in the hum of an air conditioner or recorded music played at faster or slower speeds.

If you’re out and about in the beautiful Texas Hill Country and enjoy combining family friendly physical excercise and education , check out Longhorn Cavern State Park.

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