“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes.”
Have you ever been driving along an empty-ish highway and found yourself at one point or another “waking up” at the wheel with no recollection of what scenery you passed by or any idea of how long you were in a trance for? You had your eyes open and you were more or less on the road, but there was clearly no connection between what you were looking at and your brain.
This has happened to me countless times, which can be scary when driving, but even more so if I consider all that I have missed in life by being stuck in my head.
Looking and seeing are very different things. I know this to be a fact but had to get a little help from the dictionary in order to explain it properly, so here you go:
‘Looking’ is derived from the word ‘look’, which is defined as turning one’s eyes toward an object. This describes a physical movement.
‘Seeing’ is taken from the word ‘see’ which dictionaries describe as to perceive something. Perception is the process of recognition or relating what the eyes see with previous knowledge.
It’s true, we can probably get through life by simply looking…but that’s no different than saying we could survive without ever falling in love, eating a delicious meal, petting a puppy, or leaving our house. I don’t know about you, but that sounds hella-boring to me.
Today I invite you to start seeing the world around you. Start embracing your eyes as powerful tools that can lead you to a more mindful, creative, and satisfying life. Make connections between what you are looking at and how it makes you feel. Take in your surroundings with a child’s sense of wonder and exploration. Distinguish between colors and shades, shapes and sizes, form relationships between objects and admire their juxtaposition. Truly see the person in front of you as they are speaking. Truly see yourself as you stand in front of the mirror at night.
Your challenge this week is to take a long walk and play a little game that will help you see. All you need is a notebook and pen and at least 30 min for the walk. At the top of a page, I want you to list out all the primary colors. As you walk, you will write in all the different things you see that are that color under the correct column. Kind of like taking inventory at work, but more fun! You could also get fancy and do the same with shapes on a different piece of paper. The point is to take this walk with the mindset of a detective, going out with eyes wide open and a focused mind.
The first time I did this, I was astounded by the fact that I had spent 4 years in a neighborhood I could barely recognize. Had that little shop always been there? Had my neighbor’s door always been purple? And where did those trees come from?
I continue to play this game with myself daily, and it’s had a profound difference in the way I see life, in the level of appreciation and gratefulness I feel to be part of this beautiful world.