Day 782: How to look at things

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”?

Well, dear readers, let’s look at the suggestions in this post more as guidelines than rules, okay?

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:

IMG_5753 IMG_5801

Guideline #2:  Be open to seeing cause-and-effect connections.

For example, if you see roses, where might the roses come from?

IMG_5805 IMG_5810

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?

IMG_5814 IMG_5815 IMG_5816

IMG_5819 IMG_5856

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.


IMG_5843 IMG_5842

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.

IMG_5657 IMG_5812

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.

IMG_5841 IMG_5840

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:


Be open.

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.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 38 Comments

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38 thoughts on “Day 782: How to look at things

  1. “We are very open” It reminds me of a magnet on the fridge at my parent’s house. “The kitchen is always open”

  2. I see that you are seeing things in a west coast view, Ann, and my peepers say jeepers, that’s sweet.

  3. Ghirardelli’s is closed? But, we were there not long ago — at the end of August, last summer. I took a photo of Goat Lies Down on Broadway, by Jeff Schwaner, on one of the tables there. It was doing a booming business then. We still have a couple of tins of their chocolates lying around. What a surprise!

    San Francisco is always wonderful to walk (or climb) around in. The cable car museum, which is free, is outstanding. And there’s a stunning, restful walk along the cliffs just past the Presidio (I think it’s called).

    I’m so glad that you’re seeing such wonderful things!

    • Actually, Maureen, that part is closed, probably for remodeling. The rest is open. See how our eyes (and those we read) can deceive us? I am so glad you shared your experience there. Now I see that place, in my mind’s eye, with more fondness.

      • So, the We Are Open sign is also G’s? Maybe the upstairs part where they (used to) sell ice cream? I wondered, but it looked a bit like a poster store in the photo. That’s good, then. You need that iconic photo.

      • Actually, that sign was outside an art gallery, across the street. There was a section of Ghiradelli’s that was open — upstairs and further into the complex.

    • Oh, and thanks for the suggestions on more things I can see here!

  4. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the truth of something is what it is.

    There are as many views toward a subject as there are viewers; however, the subject has a particular truth that is its own and “is” because of it, no matter how many views of it differ.


  5. All good suggestions and I like them. I am opened to new possibilities and what I might be wrong :0

    • I look at it this way: it’s always great to be open to possibilities. It’s also great to look at self-judgment and let go of that, if that helps.

  6. I have lived in the Bay Area my entire life and I have never seen the Pier and the bridges from that vantage point. Very nice pictures, hope you rode the cable cars and stood on the outside!

    • My son and I rode the cable cars yesterday, but we just looked at the outside instead of standing there. No matter how you look at it, I really, really liked this comment.

  7. I like the way things look

  8. Ok. Here I go. That’s the Ferry Building and San Francisco Bay Bridge seen from above
    and taken from a high floor of 4 Embarcadero Center, connecting to Treasure Island. The Bay Bridge crosses the San Francisco Bay from San Francisco to Oakland. Actually, the Bay Bridge is two bridges – one from San Francisco to Treasure Island, and a second from Treasure Island to Oakland.

    • We actually crossed this bridge when my dad had the job at SLO. He had a friend in Oakland, so we decided to visit him one day. It just so happens that it was so foggy, that everyone ended with a panic attack! But I think the ‘fog lights’ cars have these days help to make this easier. What a nice view you got!

      • The sculpture is by French artist Jean Dubuffet “La Chiffonniere”, conveys a woman dressed in rags, made with petal-like layers of curved stainless steel, edged in epoxy. It is on display at the Embarcadero center.

      • Again, Maria, it looks to me like you know a lot!

      • That is the view from my friend Lawry’s office. It was beautiful. And I liked looking at what you wrote here!

    • Wow, Maria! What you wrote looks perfect to me.

  9. I try to be open, but alas I am not so all the time, great reminder though Ann. ❤
    Diana xo

  10. Believe it or not, actress Glenn Close also sings. She starred in the musical ‘Sunset Boulevard’, an adaptation of the 1950 American film noir with Gloria Swanson, portraying Norma Desmond, a faded silent movie star living in the past.

    Here’s Glenn Close ‘With One Look’:

    • Maria! It was so great to look and see another comment from you, adding some music for our ears. When we were in Los Angeles last week and found ourselves on Sunset Boulevard, I was telling my son Aaron about that movie. Now, thanks to you, I get to look at the musical version of it.

  11. Jifka

    Thank u Ann, my vision has widened to an amazing degree lately and with it my heart. I find that I am finally able to embrace myself and to love others and not see them for what they may have done in my life but the special people and experiences they offered and possibly continue to offer today. I am so fortunate to have both my parents alive and my stepdad while I go through this period of acceptance, forgiveness and ultimately love because I have been able to apologize for not being the peachiest child/teen/youngwoman/mother to raise and care about. I love to read your blog and in that little way somehow be in touch with your soul. You are a very special person Ann Koplow and I am privileged to know and love you.

  12. Eyes are only truly open when the mind is also open 🙂

  13. Thank you. I had to learn to ‘open’ my eyes, differently, quite recently. I spent so much time grieving, I was missing the time spent while the dying is still with me.
    Girl, I am so sorry the Pier Chocolate Shop was closed. Someone told me they had shops around the city; one was right up the hill.
    Love the artwork. Especially, the unexpected. My oldest daughter taught me about light, perspective and value in the unexpected. She paints, my younger one, writes.
    Sweetie, you and Aaron have a safe journey home. This year’s weather has been one for the books.

    • Thank you, sweet one, for bringing your gratitude, wisdom, empathy, love, and other beautiful ways of looking at things here. I am very grateful.

  14. A lovely post and the best advice to the whole world.

  15. Pingback: Day 782: Best supporting Oscars | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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