Are you looking or are you seeing?
Isn’t it amazing that we are alive? We are not only here, but we are aware we are here. What is this awareness? Doesn’t it at least point to who we really are?
Maya Angelou said that “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
I have loved that line since I first heard it. It seems to me that we are conditioned in our society to measure everything by quantity. How long we live, how much money we make, how many friends we have and how many people follow us on social media.
This quote reminds me that there is a qualitative way to measure our lives. It shines a different light on our experiences. It gives us another way to live if we wish to embrace this way of experiencing our lives. All we have to do is go out and look at the stars at night. Let that immensity in even a little and you will be filled with a sense of awe and wonder.
Who are we? What are we doing here?
Henry David Thoreau wrote: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
It seems to me that the difference between looking and seeing is the difference between living in a daydream and being really present. I know that when I am really present, the world looks different.
This is a practice: to see without judging. To just see without the need to label and define and measure. To simply witness the beauty of each moment — surely that is one of the reasons we exist.
During this difficult time, it is helpful to remember the words of Rumi: “Listen with the ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love!”
If we could listen, see and speak this way surely the world would be a different place. But we can’t force others to do this. We can only try to do this for ourselves. In the process, we not only change our own experience of life to one of quality rather than quantity, but perhaps we help change the world as well.
I found myself feeling stressed today. I feel better now. I am not just looking, I am seeing. This is the consolation of philosophy.