“Instead of trying to look better; Start trying to see better”
Bumper sticker spotted on HWY 12
Whoa! Those are powerful words, don’t you think? Most of us are all about looking good aren’t we? If we were not, the cosmetics market would not be the multi billion market it is today. Everything about us, from the clothes we wear to the model car we drive, from hair styling to pedicures, we take our appearance pretty seriously.
The marketing teams for our political figures have all this down to a science. Want our candidate to look presidential? Put him in a well-tailored suit and tie. Whoops! Is he coming across as too formal? Let’s pose him at the ballpark in short sleeves, maybe with a hot dog in his hand. Muss his hair a little bit. Yea, that’s about right.
We can laugh at the politicos but we, too, spend a good part of our lives at fitness centers or beauty salons or catching the latest sale at Mervyn’s, all in the interest of looking good. Nothing wrong with that, right? Of course, we want to look good, to project an image of success, of having it together.
The problem with concentrating all our energies into looking good is that we can lose track of who we are on the inside. Intent on how we will appear to others, we no longer have the capacity to go outside ourselves and really see the beauty around us.
By changing our focus to “seeing,” we become outer directed. The center of our attention is no longer how we look to others but the people and the things that we see around us. Did you ever have the experience of passing by a store or a sign or a tree a thousand times over the years and one day, for the first time, you SEE it. You ask yourself, “How come I never noticed it before?” This can happen in our personal relationships, too. You have been married for twenty-five years to your spouse and one day it dawns on you that she has strikingly beautiful brown eyes. Could it be that we pay so much attention to how we look that our eyes are closed to even the person we love?
Sometimes, it seems we almost go out of our way NOT to see. Ask a homeless person how many people who pass by him every day really see him? How many senior citizens really see the teenagers hanging out in the mall, not as a threat, but just kids having a good time? Seeing is not just a biological phenomenon. We see with our minds and our understanding, too. We see goodness where we want to see it.
In William Stafford’s poem “When I Met My Muse,” his muse says to him “I am your own way of looking at things. When you allow me to live with you, every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation.” Ay, there’s the rub isn’t it? Allowing the God within you to see the beauty that is everywhere. God has put the stamp of the divine on our world, in people, in the flowers of spring, the stars in the heavens and even in little puppy dogs. It’s all there for us to see and appreciate.
What a waste it would be if we were to go through our whole lives so intent on trying to look better that we missed seeing life.