Looking AND Seeing

A view of Kennesaw Mountain in Cobb County, Georgia.



Boise foothills in Idaho


Today was a beautiful day.  It was sunny and breezy with temps in the 60's.  I took an hour long walk on the Greenbelt, which is basically a nature trail that runs through Boise and around the foothills of the mountains.  During my walk it was impossible not to be smacked in the face (in the good kind of wake you up way) with the beauty of nature.  It was right there all around me and reminded me of why I fell in love with Boise when I first visited two years ago.  Nature was vibrant and alive and the mountains up close and personal.  


But I also got a smack in the face of another kind today.  When I left my basement apartment to go out on my adventure, the family I rent from were all home engrossed in one screen or another.  When I returned home they were out to dinner, but came back a little later to resume their indoor activities. In the almost 5 months I have lived here, I have never seen this family out enjoying nature - even in their front yard.  They are almost always home inside with the screens.  They have lived in Boise all their lives but they either never really looked at the beauty around them, or at some point stopped seeing it.


I don't say this to judge, but rather to say that it woke me up to my own experience.   When I fell in love with Boise two years ago it was because I came here as a visitor.  My senses were awakened and I was paying attention.   I went to places where the unique beauty of Boise could literally smack me in the face.   I was looking and seeing everything.


It was rather like this when we first moved to Atlanta, Georgia in the 1990's.  You would find us most weekends taking a hike on one of the trails near our Marietta home or up in the mountains enjoying a spring day or the fall leaves.  Saturday nights it was very common to find us perusing at Oxford books and scouting around town for a late night cup of coffee.  When I think of these memories I can still feel the rush of what it felt like to look and see Atlanta.


 Somehow over time I quit really seeing the city and state I called home.  I worked, took care of business, slept and started the whole process again each day.  And when I quit seeing, I started forgetting that there were places nearby I could go where nature's beauty could literally smack me in the face AND places I could hang out where the diversity of our humanity is always on display with all of its own beauty and splendor.



I think it is easy to do this kind of forgetting with nature and people.  They are just there day in and day out and we figure they always will be.  While people we know can remind us that we may be taking them for granted, places don't necessarily do that.  They just continue to exist whether we take the time to look and see or not.  They may or may not change, but we are definitely changed for the worse when we quit looking and seeing.


Maybe that is one of the important reasons to travel - to have your senses awakened to remember to look and to really see.    There are some places of stunning beauty all around this world, and many of them are right in our own backyards.  I will be going to Georgia, my home for 22 years, at the end of this month to see my son Jacob's post-graduation directorial debut.  Although I will be there to see the show, I plan to also be fully awake so that I can look and see the home that was mine for 22 years.  The home that I have been away from for 5 months that I have longed to see.  I didn't really realize today that my longing to see it did not just start these past few months.  It started years ago when I stopped really looking.  I plan during this trip to really let Atlanta smack me in the face (you know in that good way I mentioned) with its uniqueness and beauty.   


I am giddy with excitement for this adventure.