Saturday, September 12, 2020

COPING WITH COVID – No Better Time for Seeing Generously

 At first glance, vision may seem like a simple one-way transaction. We open our eyes. An image goes in and gets processed by the mind. If it's something important, it may move us to feel or do something, or it gets stored somewhere for future reference.

In fact, it's easy to think of all our senses like that—merely taking in sensations. But it doesn't have to be that way. Consider touch. I mean we generally see, hear, taste or smell anonymously—without any involvement of the thing we're sensing. But when we touch something, it always, automatically, touches us back

Until recently, I thought touch was the only one of our conventional senses that could do that. But with COVID-19 trying to suck the life out of our touching, it seems a good time to reconsider the reach and intention of our other senses.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if seeing were more like touch? If one could actually impart something akin to the warmth and gentle pressure of a hug or holding hands without violating social distancing guidelines?

        You purposely, preemptively, dismiss the
        distractions and open your soul to wonder
        before you even know it’s there.

It's hard to imagine, because we've gotten complacent in our seeing. We expect to find our images delivered effortlessly to us on screens, often while sitting alone or at least in our own little worlds. With virtually no contact with the actual things depicted on the screen, it's kind of a sad exercise in anonymity.

This consumption mentality of seeing affects even the way we perceive real stuff. For example, we seem to prefer looking at things we already know. Like so many TV re-runs, their familiarity soothes us, keeps us company, actually turns off our minds. Nothing's really new. We give nothing, we invest nothing and, one could argue, we get nothing.

So what is seeing generously? What does it look like?

Is our seeing all it can be?

It may happen unconsciously. Let's say you're looking at something—an animal, a sunset, another person. If, at that moment, your mind has its foot on your spirit, you won't be especially moved. But as soon as you begin to let go of objectives and schedules, turn of the cell phone and truly notice, something begins to change. 

You start seeing more proactively. That is, instead of waiting for small wonders to strike your visual fancy, you actually go looking for them. Instead of expecting them to somehow crack through your inattention, your distraction, you, at least now and then, purposely, preemptively, dismiss the distractions and open your soul to wonder before you even know it’s there.

            When we see things in this way, we grow,
       our consciousness grows and the world
       becomes a more mindful, loving place.

At first, it may be just small increments of investment, feelings like appreciation or satisfaction. That's okay; it's a start. But then, if you can allow yourself to be curious, the way you were naturally when you were a child, the transaction starts to truly transform.
Now your seeing's become a gift, not just to yourself, but to the person or thing you're curious about. When we see things in this way—not just with our eyes, or even our mind, but with our heart and our spirit—we grow, our consciousness grows and the world becomes a more mindful, loving place.

Have you ever noticed the way a person lights up when the conversation turns from the typical self-promoting, cocktail party chatter to genuine interest in something that really matters to that person? You know, when "Me, me, me…well, enough about me. What do you think about me?" turns to "What about you? What are you interested in?"  When we see someone that way—or when we wonder at one of Nature's miracles—that's a blessing we give to that person, that creature or that thing.

This is even more important during this historic confluence of pandemic with what may well be the most frightening political collapse we've ever experienced in the U.S. It's a time when those with the emotional maturity to do so must recognize other folks' pain and loneliness. If we're ever able to reconcile our differences, we must learn to view even our most bitter political enemies with compassion. 

That is how seeing generously looks and sounds...and has to be.

Do you see generously? Does your ability to do so hinge on what's going on in your life and in the world? Think you'd still be able to if Donald Trump' reign of error continues for another term? We'd love to hear about your ideas and experiences!