“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau
Two people can look at the same thing, yet see it very differently. Case in point-
It takes different eyes to look at “Dumb and Dumber” and see “Inception.”
My take on Thoreau’s observation is that life – at least the most compelling parts; i.e. relationships, faith, art, vocation, etc. – boils down to our (subjective) seeing. Seeing defined as the experience of attributing meaning or purpose to what you look at; looking as the tangible, physical act of using one’s eyes.
We define meaning and value by what we see, but we don’t all see the same. This plays out in interesting ways all over the place. For example, what is conflict except two people looking at the same situation and seeing it differently?
You certainly have to find good things to look at before you can begin to see anything. But do you ever notice or reflect on what you see? Or about how it may be different from someone else who’s looking at the very same thing? What are the consequences and the potentials of this reality? How much healthier (and more interesting) would our lives and relationships be if we walked around understanding this difference? What if we trained our eyes not just to look at stuff, but to see it?
Like Thoreau, I’m not so interested in what I’m looking at. What I want is to see.