Most of us go through our day to day lives in familiar surroundings. The same home, the same route to work, the same isles to walk down at the same stores; the familiar is all around us. We sit in the same places, and move in the same circles. It’s easy to get lost in the familiar, to not bother to look up since you know what’s right around the corner. While many people might notice significant changes in the weather, you might not bother to look up at the sky.
Allowing yourself to become complacent in the familiar can be a great comfort- but it can also take away ample opportunity for greater experiences- and therefore remove the opportunity for greater enjoyment.
What does your home look like in the light of early morning? How about with afternoon sun pouring through the windows? Have you considered the light quality in your work place? Do you know what “light quality” is? (Different light produces different wavelengths, and those wavelengths have much to do with how we perceive color.)
We deal with art every single day though it’s easy to miss. Every building you see, from the most intricate sky scraper to the plainest garage was designed by an architect. Each aspect, from the foundation to the roof, was composed by someone- to serve whatever purpose was needed. There is an art to functionality, many would argue, so even the simplest structure can be viewed as a work of art. It’s not just the buildings either- everything from hand-woven baskets to the space shuttle have designers, and someone, frequently many people, made each thing. It’s easy to forget that both your building and your laundry hamper were designed by someone, perhaps those items were that designers masterpiece.
Most everyone has plants around them. If not literally in your home, then there is likely a growing thing breathing in carbon dioxide in near proximity. Even the most congested cities have plants breaking through the cracks in the sidewalks; bursts of color amid all the grey. Plants have so much to offer the eyes- not just the brightness of flowers, but details and textures that are so easily missed in impartial passing. Veins in leaves and petals, the velvet on pistils, the many variations of tree bark; casual botany can do more than awaken ones scientific mind, it can arouse ones soul.
What’s the point of all of this? Each and every moment that you’re awake, you have the opportunity to feast your eyes upon the world around you. Not just look around, but really give your visual cortex a feast. What’s the difference between seeing something and really feasting upon it? Intention, of course, and frequently a good doze of perspective helps along the way. Changing the angle that you look at something normal can give you a new sense of what it is. Taking that extra moment to pause and actually study something- be it texture of a wall or clouds in the sky- is an excellent way to give your eyes a chance to do one of the best things that they do- activate the pleasure centers in your brain. Even a “plain thing” such as a piece of paper or a sandwich can be a feast for your eyes.
Take a moment to really look at something familiar from an unfamiliar perspective. Get up close and personal with a wall, lean in close to a plant, just stare at the sky, hold a pencil so close you can see the texture of the wood and graphite. The very next thing that you come close to can become a feast. Dear readers, let me propose that you take a moment with the next item you touch, or come into close contact with. A moment where you can truly see this thing. Let your eyes observe it from angles not familiar, and perhaps uncomfortable. Close your eyes, draw close to the item, open, and let your eyes adjust. Would you recognize what’s before your eyes if you didn’t already know what it was? Is the texture different than what you were expecting? Hopefully allowing your eyes the experience to see something in a new perspective will continue to whet your appetite for the hedonistic delights all around you.
Originally posted March 15, 2011
Thank you to the generous Daniel Lee for contributing the photo.