Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seeing Clearly

Last week as I was looking out my kitchen window, I realized that the view was really lacking. The marigolds are in full bloom out on the deck, but everything looked dull and dark. I took a closer look and found that not only was the window smudged, but the screen was also covered with dust. (Guess who doesn't "do windows" around here?)

After a quick dusting and a swipe of window cleaner, everything came into focus: the blossoming petunias, the hummingbirds visiting my nasturtiums every morning, the weeds growing between the basil plants. Seeing clearly meant I saw every lovely petal and leaf, every fragrant herb and blossom, and each pesky slug and beetle, too.

I had another eye-opening experience last week. Someone I was working with did something I couldn't understand, something I considered wrong. I suddenly saw them with different eyes, in a way I never expected or wanted to. Seeing them this way was sad and hard, but helpful and necessary. When I finally see someone clearly—slugs and all—I'm not sure that I can go back to the smudgy, dim view I held before (as much as I might want to).

This isn't the first time this has happened, but I'm left wondering if I sometimes choose not to see things clearly because I know that a soft focus is more forgiving. It's hard work to clean those windows, and sometimes we don't like what we see.

Is it better not to look too closely? Or is it always better to see everything as clearly as possible? What do you think?


  1. I think (though I am not the expert in doing it) that you can split the difference, as it were. I believe it is possible to see things clearly and still enjoy the perks of the soft focus. I suspect the key factor here is releasing expectations.

    Interestingly, your flowers looked more beautiful to you the more clear the window was. The individual in question was more appealing when the "window" was blurry :-)

    We choose what is beautiful and what we want to see. We decide what we wish was blurry.

    (It may sound like I'm preaching, but what you are really hearing is "ask me how I know" LOL.)

    I had a similar situation recently. I experienced an interaction that cast a shadow over my clarity, and made me so averse to it, was that I was becoming profoundly judgmental. Not of the person, necessarily... rather, my expectations of how a person should act. Doesn't make me a judgmental person. Just means I have expectations. Which can be good, but very often it causes us a lot of grief.

    If I can work to let go of my expectations and thus my judgment, I suspect clarity is a fuller experience and allows us to savor whatever is in front of us, even if the window's dirty or the other party is handing us a challenge. Because I also think that we miss some of the gifts of things because we're seeing them from the "window" of our own expectations.

    I have a long way to go, though :-)

  2. I'm pretty sure you're right that our expectations have a lot to do with this. I've realized that my own "windows" are clouded by expectations, and cleaning them means releasing what I expected to see. I remember my first drawing class in high school, learning to turn the subject upside down in order to sketch it. Things don't look familiar when you see them that way, which means you are drawing the apple (or whatever) just as it is rather than drawing your memory or experience of "an apple." Another way of "cleaning" the window.

    "More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity." -Francois Gautier Always working on this and trying to figure out what it means! Thank you for responding, Michelle!



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