Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

It's Not What You See, But How You See

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I want to show them different ways to see the world.

My son will be receiving a (small) camera for his birthday next week.  He has commandeered mine more times than I can count.  It's time.

Coming off of a long, unbalanced day, we had a decision last night of what to do.  (Movie?  Read? Early Bedtime?)  In thinking of his upcoming birthday and his present, I decided to go to a local lake and take a short hike.  I grabbed my camera and let the kids lead the way.

An hour later, I realized it is not just my son who is getting a gift.

I saw.  I saw again.  And again.  Yes, my eyes focused on new plants, shapes, light and movement.  Yes, my camera lens became a fascinating tool to pretend to capture this impermanence.  But that isn't what I'm talking about when I mentioned that "I saw".

I saw how my feet plopped or settled gently on the ground.  I saw how anxious I get when the kids are running in a dusk-kissed forest but how fascinating the movement of color of my daughter's dress was against the dark background.  I saw every emotion, every breath, every sensation because I was attuned to it.  I had allowed myself into the moment.

I've been a hobby-photographer for years.  I've attended Photoshop conferences (geeky fun), photographed different events, spent hours on the computer and on trails, and have thousands of digital pictures gathering virtual-dust to speak for it.  After collecting countless images, though, my interest started to wax and wane.  

What I wasn't aware of then that I am now is that my camera had become an obstacle.  I had goals - to get well-framed photos, to make sure to capture the story that was unfolding, or to get the person smiling in just the right light.  I was trying.  

No wonder I lost interest.

Today, when the kids and I ventured out, there was no camera.  I was moving, breathing, and experiencing.  I interacted with the moment.  I happen to have some images to show - something to express, but the photos are not the point.  When in the flow, the experience and the expression become one.  

Travelling last night through an often-visited trail, using the same old camera, eyes drawn to the same plants they've seen hundreds of times, I saw.  And through this seeing, this being, I re-visit the captured images to remind myself of something very important:

It's not what you see, it's how you see that matters.

And when you begin to see the world through different perspectives, through wonder and awe and mindful presence instead of expectations and goals and exhausted trying, life becomes a very rich experience indeed.

An aside: In respect of honesty, I will share that no matter how blissful this all seems - life isn't all cherries and pink unicorns and flowing breath.  Amidst all of this, I did get deeply frustrated when the kids threw rocks after I told them not to and nearly lost it when my son admitted he had to go potty at the farthest point away from the restrooms (and after I'd already asked him if he had to go before we started).  But that's the funny and enlightening part:  The practice, the breath, the flow is found among the potty-moments in life.

I am thankful for the gift we are able to give our son and for the gifts I am able to receive.

I practice to continue to show them different ways to see the world so that I am blessed to experience the same.

Namaste.