A Wade Lowe creation – What you look at, you think about. What you think about, you become. Simple. True. So the question is, what are you looking at?
Here’s a quick story that has stuck with me for years now that helped me evaluate my perspective and become more aware of what I pay attention to. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Redondo Beach with the temperature in the mid 70’s, bright blue skies, quiet, peaceful, serene, with a slight calming breeze coming off the ocean. I was walking out of Coffee Bean heading back to my car with intention of going down to the water for a few minutes to take in the environment and appreciate my surroundings.
As I took a few steps out the door, I crossed paths with a women heading in to the store. We both passed a potted plant on the side of the building at the same time. She looked at the pot, noticed something about it and looked at me. Upon looking at me she scowls, stops me, points at the plant and says “can you believe they don’t clean up this mess!?”
I answered with my best Scoobie Doo impression, mumbling a “huhhhhhhh?” and giving a very perplexed look. I was slightly confused, but also curious because I love how weird people can be sometimes. I said “I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I get it” although I noticed a pack of empty cigarettes in the plant. I imagined that was what she was talking about, but I had to find out for sure as the suspense was now killing me.
She said something along the lines of “Why does nobody have any respect anymore? Not only are people destroying the landscape, but people don’t even care enough to clean it up?” Interesting perspective, I thought to myself. Not wanting to get sucked into whatever story she was in, I smiled and politely said “I hope that works out for you” and we parted ways.
Upon driving the few blocks to the water I couldn’t get that interaction out of my head. I kept looking at our surroundings, likely one of the most beautiful days in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Why in the world was THAT what she was paying attention to? I wasn’t judging her. I was curious and empathetic. I was sad for her and little bit for me. I’ve realized over the years that if I notice something in someone else that affects me like that it’s likely because I’m seeing my own reflection.
I began to think about how often I’m stuck in some story in my head about the past or the future and wondered how many beautiful days and moments I’ve missed. How often I am thinking about how things should be, or how I’m not getting what I want, or beating myself up about the past, or stressing about the future or whatever it happens to be that day. Am I destined to be a middle-aged woman (man in my case) pointing out empty cigarette packs in a potted plant, or will I be someone who notices the beauty in everything regardless of what’s happening in my head or around me?
I declared that day I would be the latter. Ever since that day, I have made it a point to have “a moment of awe and wonder” regarding something I’m looking at or experiencing. It has changed my life. Honestly. I am literally shocked by how much beauty there is around me. I find it EVERYWHERE.
Have you ever looked at a flower deeply? What about listening to a bird sing? How about the laugh of a two year old? How about the wisdom in the eyes of an elderly person? What about a meaningful conversation where all you do is listen? How about how cell phones work? I heard a quote once that goes something like this: ”If you look deeply enough at something it will become sacred.” I believe this to be true.
Try it. Look at anything deeply, giving it your full attention and watch how it becomes alive. Let your curiosity and amazement take hold and just be with the object, situation or moment. You will feel a sense of aliveness that taps in to the essence of who we are as humans. We often miss it because we’re so “busy” doing things. Stop being so busy. Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to. Notice the affect it has on what you think about and who you are. If it’s not serving you start looking at something different, even if it’s only for a moment a day.
Join me in the daily “moment of awe and wonder” and let me know how it goes.