Because each one of us is unique, with different experiences and assumptions, we all look at things differently.
So, Jeepers! How can I possibly have the nerve to title a post “How to look at things”?
Guideline #1: Be open to seeing unexpected similarities.
For example, be open to this sort of thing when you’re visiting two old friends who live in very different parts of the Bay Area of San Francisco:
Guideline #2: Be open to seeing cause-and-effect connections.
For example, if you see roses, where might the roses come from?
If you see a daily activity chart, what might be the cause of that?
Guideline #3: Be open to the possibility that your first assumptions about what’s in front of your eyes (also known as “peepers“) might not be complete or correct.
For example, an activity chart for dog-walking might refer to a dog different than the one you’re seeing right now.
More examples for Guideline #3: what are YOUR assumptions when you look at these photos?
What assumptions do you have about the who, what, where, etc. of each of those photos? I’m sure that if I did not have my privileged knowledge as the chooser and taker of those images, I would be making all sorts of assumptions about them — some “correct” and some “incorrect.”
Which leads me to the next guideline:
Guideline #4: Be open to letting go of assumptions, but also trust your own eyes, instincts, and experience.
Nobody else can tell you the “truth” about what you see and what you have seen with your own eyes, and about what all those mean to you.
For example, when we look at art, we each see different things and have different thoughts and feelings.
Nobody can tell you or me that what we see in that artwork is right or wrong.
Guideline #5: Be open to seeing things through somebody else’s eyes.
For example, if you’re with somebody who is different from you (say, younger, different gender, different style and perspectives), let that person make choices about what things to look at, even if those choices are different from yours.
Guideline #6: Be open to seeing new things you’ve never seen before, even if you’re not sure how they work and fit in with the rest of your known universe.
Guideline #7: Be open to seeing mundane things as special.
For example, if you first saw somebody very important to you at Peet’s Coffee in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA several years ago, feel free to look at similar images, 3000 miles away, as important.
Guideline #8: Be open to how the past affects how you see the present.
For example, I might see things in a retro-style diner that evoke images of my childhood:
Guideline #9: Be open to transforming disappointments about what you see into opportunities.
For example, if something you wanted to see is closed, appreciate and accept all richness there is to see in the present.
Guideline #10: Be open to identifying with what you see.
For example, when you’re using the closet of the flown-the-nest daughter of a beloved friend, see how you might have some things in common with her:
In general, this is how to look at things:
I hope you know I am very open to questions and comments about anything you’ve looked at here.
Thanks to Margaret Keane (who created those big-eyed paintings shown in Guideline #4, above), to my son, to my boyfriend back home in Boston, to my friends (including Marcia and Lawry, who have both opened up their homes to me on my current travels), to every person, place, and thing I’ve looked at recently in the San Francisco area, and to you — of course! — for looking at things your own unique way, today.