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Day 38: Simple transformations

Our neighbour's carport

The human gaze is not the closed, fixed view of a camera but is creative and constructive. Both the gaze that sees and the object that is seen construct themselves simultaneously in the one act of vision. So much depends then on how we see things. More often than not the style of gaze determines what we see. There are many things near us that we never notice simply because of the way we see. The way we look at things has a huge influence on what becomes visible for us. If a house has been closed up for a long time, a film of dust settles on the windows. Decayed residue gradually manages to seal out the light. When we go into such a place, we smell the dankness of sour fetid air. The same thing can happen in the rooms of the mind. If one has become stuck in a certain narrow or predictable way of seeing, the outside light cannot bring colour into one’s life. Eventually the windows of the mind become blinded by an imperceptible film of dead thought and old feeling so that the air within becomes stale, life lessens and the outside world loses it invitation and challenge. When no fresh light can come into the mind, the colour and beauty fade from life.

Source: O’Donohue, J. (2003). Divine Beauty: The invisible embrace. London: Bantam Books (p.28).

For six years my neighbour has kindly let me park my car into her car port.

For six years I have driven my car into this space and during this time I have been oblivious to what else shares this space with my car. My mind has only registered the presence of bits and pieces of junk and gardening paraphernalia.

Today I drove in to this same car port and I saw a completely different picture in front of me. The shadows and reflections at the end of the day created a beautiful light. A corner of this car port glowed for a brief period. No longer was the view in front of me drab.

I looked at the legs of an old treadle sewing machine hanging on the wall. I looked at the intricate pattern of the welded iron. I was taken by the colours of everything and how well they worked together. I wondered what the original sewing machine must have looked like and who used it. Did the machine belong to my elderly neighbour or someone else? I tried to imagine her sewing. I remembered my mother’s old treadle sewing machine and all the clothes she was able to make for us on it. I suddenly found myself thinking about my own electric sewing machine and all the things I have sewn over the years.

It dawned on me that things are never what they seem. The danger is to close our minds off and look at something literally without actually seeing it. When we do this the everyday seems so dull, boring and mundane. It is amazing how opening yourself up to new possibilities can change this perspective.

I walked out of the car port this afternoon feeling elated that my own perspective was changing. I realised I was learning the art of seeing and this was impacting on me in unexpected ways.

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