"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andre Gide

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How to Look at the World

One of my patients is an artist. I mean, a real artist…like, with paintings in galleries. Not just a hobbyist. She is radiantly beautiful. She glows with an inner calm, a spirit of peaceful harmony with life and the land. In some minutes of openness, she shared with me how she developed thinking, knowing artist eyes. Her grandmother, also an artist, took her out of school on special days and they would walk the land and look at trees and flowers and grass. And “my grandmother taught me how to look at the world.”

It is not a philosophical or religious question. Well, that is not fair, because maybe it is. But, it is meant to be a health question. How can I live the healthiest life available to me? We look at the world whether we think about how we do it or not. Clearly, some outlooks are healthier than others. Did we learn to look at it? Did I look at it the way I’ve always looked at it? Did I take any different steps in my looking? Were there any new vistas? Are there any new colors or shapes?

Since I’ve started examining how I look at the world, I’ve noticed that playfulness comes easier. There is more room for humor and even failure. What would it be like to have a purple dog? How about green eggs and ham? And almost as quickly as I can come up with these endless possibilities, I want to share them with someone else. This presents a problem akin to the tree falling in the forest. If I don’t post it on facebook, does it really exist?
George Berkeley (1685-1753) talked of objects ceasing to exist once there was nobody around to perceive them. Old George would probably be overwhelmed with the amount of information available at our fingertips today. The internet, while fraught with cyber-pollution and cyber-noise, may not exist if I don’t look at it.

My artist patient is a Baby-Boomer. I’m a Gen-Xer. Everyone born after 1980 is a Millenial. At some point, we all decide how to look at our world. Perhaps more of my days could be “special” days in which I take time out to observe, revere, appreciate, listen, describe, and find peace. Maybe I can pass it on to someone else the old fashion way: in person, face to face, with a bright radiant gift smile.



  1. I really love this post. I always appreciate reading something that makes me think. I guess I never stopped to think about what shapes the way I look at things. I mean, sure, I do it in class. I understand the historical, economic, cultural and social reasons that influence the way we perceive certain things, but I never stopped to think about my own health and life. Why am I so interested in being healthy in the first place?
    Anyway, great post! Linking it on my blog :)

  2. Thanks, Karla, for your comment! I haven't figured out how to reply privately to comments. (I think it is impossible with blogger actually) All comments are eagerly welcomed!!! L


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