It’s not what you look at that matters. It is what you see.Henry David Thoreau
Seeing is different from looking. We can casually cast our eyes across a scene or give momentary attention to a person, but that is not seeing.
We have not brought ourselves into the frame, whatever it is, and given it the honour it deserves.
This is observation. And it isn’t just about time.
In the simplest terms, observation is the ability to see in the present – but I believe its meaning is twofold. It is a way to both survey a scene and hone in on its magic, the minute elements that catch your eye… this type of observation is what allows you to understand the beauty of a space, explore it, and, ultimately, expose it for what it is.
When you become more aware of and in tune with your surroundings, they begin to take on different shapes. You can walk down a street a hundred times and still find something new. You can stare at a painting for five minutes and watch its composition change as new shapes, colours, and tones come into focus. There is always something more to be seen…
These are beautiful insights from a new Do Book from Andrew Paynter: Do photo – Observe. Compose. Capture. Stand out. And while he is addressing those of us who want to frame our technical sight better, I think it speaks to us all.
Observation is one side of the coin. The other is how we turn up, how we choose to be present.
Because how we see, and what we see, is affected by how we are present. The emotions and intentions we bring with us affect not only our perception but also impacts who we are with.
On a practical level, I know this with our alpacas. They are super sensitive to emotions and will pick up the psychological swirl we bring with us into their orbit.
And as people, we may think that we are better able to control or mask how we are together, but the reality is that our internal antennae – our souls – are finely tuned. Intuitively we know, even if we try to ignore them.
Recently I have been re-reading Seth Godin’s short e-book Graceful: making a difference in a world that needs you. Although it was published a decade ago, it is profoundly wise and still relevant now.
As a result, I posed a question on Seth’s Akimbo podcast, which he graciously answered toward the end of this week’s episode The Zoom Revolution. He has also made the e-book available on the show notes. It is short, practical and inspiring. Do pick it up and let it feed your soul, and change how you see yourself and your work.
Because we need more grace.