Seeing With New Eyes

“The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.”—Joseph B. Wirthlin

We were driving back from a vacation, heading to our home when my attention was drawn to the shiny dashboard of our little Fiat.

A flash of sunlight that sparkled against the metallic red of the retro dashboard triggered a flash of awareness that I’d taken for granted something I’d initially loved and noticed often.

I remembered how excited I was with that dashboard when we first looked at the car in the showroom—how the colors of red, cream and black and the fabulous styling were reminiscent of an old Bakelite radio from the 1940s.

Maybe the fact that I’m from the ‘40s too, having made my appearance in 1946, explains my fondness for things retro. And the beauty of this little car, particularly its stylish interior was something that I often appreciated—in the beginning.

Now, even though nothing’s changed in the car’s appearance, I realize I jump into it without noticing anything other than whether there’s gas in the tank.

When we got back I unpacked the knowledge that I’d taken our car for granted and that was the catalyst for seeing things in our home, too, that I no longer really saw.

There are lots of things in our surroundings that were purchased with the same excitement and enthusiasm that I’d had for our Fiat. The large piece of art work that I had lusted after for months before we bought it, the mid-century chair in citrus green that occupied my thoughts nonstop until we were able to own it, to name a few.

And, looking with a heightened lens, I realized how many of the things that I’ve loved, including photos of my parents, children and grandchildren, were somehow out of focus and hazy, becoming just the background of my life.

The flash of light against a metallic dashboard snapped me back into gratitude and appreciation mode—and illuminated an additional awareness that it’s easy to allow the people in our lives to become background, too.

How often do I look at my husband with new eyes, and experience him with the same thrill and excitement I had when we were first together? I never want to take him for granted and become a relationship version of our little Fiat.

There’s a sharper and much more satisfying focus in life now, when the things, and particularly the people I see more and more, don’t become the things I see less and less.

Here’s looking at you!

Jeanne Looper Smith