Changing How We See

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sometimes what we see isn't always what is. Appearances can be deceiving...........

How do you see?
Every morning when I wake up and glance out my bedroom window, my eyes are drawn to aged, spindly tree, knobby and brittle, it's trunk neatly drilled by my backyard woodpeckers.  To some, this tree would go unnoticed, but to me it is a sign of beauty and strength.  When we look at our aged population with gnarled, arthritic joints, thinning gray hair, bent spines and wrinkled faces, we feel sympathy and pity.  Perhaps what we should feel is admiration for the strength and longevity these folks possess.  Like this tree, these imperfections are symbols of a life well lived, not signs of weakness or failure.  In the words of Mark Twain, "Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."
Everyday we see and interact with people who may look a little like this tree.   We move hurriedly past them in the grocery aisles, or drive behind them questioning their capabilities.  We may not understand their story, value their strength, or comprehend their struggles.   We do not understand their fear and frustration with declining physical and mental abilities.  We may not understand their grief over losing a loved one.  We just take their existence, and persistence with living life for granted.

When we look at younger people, we don't think much about them or their lives.  We make assumptions about them based on their appearance.  What we may not see is what might be on the "inside" of their unmarred exterior.  Perhaps they are struggling with depression, or chronic pain or a chronic illness, like diabetes.  I remember when our daughter Katie was first diagnosed with Type I diabetes when she was only ten months old.   The first time we'd run into people after her diagnosis,  they'd often say, "She doesn't LOOK sick".  No she didn't, but that didn't change her day-to-day struggle with a chronic, life-long illness that would forever change the challenges that would face her life (and ours).  People's lives aren't always what they appear on the outside.  Sometimes the people who appear the happiest, who seem the most positive, are the ones with the most burdens on the inside.  The elderly may wear their battle scars and signs of longevity on the outside, but many people move through life with incredible burdens and scars on the inside, struggling from one day to the next just to exist.

These old trees are tough.  Even with their hollowed cores, missing limbs and drilled exteriors, they stand tall and proud.   They don't give in.   In many ways, they are like the older people in our own lives, holding on despite their scars and brokenness, and like the younger ones with their own unique battles.   All have their stories of survival. 

What I propose to you today as you look at these photos that to me represent longevity and strength, is that you begin to Change How You See.   Taking photos has trained me to see differently.   Before I'd see the "big picture" in front of me.  Now  I search out the stuff that isn't at eye level, but along side of me or below me.  I've found that to be a gift and has opened my eyes to so many things I used to miss.  That doesn't only apply to taking photos - it applies to all aspects of life.  Starting today, take time to see the inside of people, hear their story and understand their journey.  Compassion is a virtue and a gift.   I promise that Changing How You See will change your life!

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Thank you for allowing me to share by photos and thoughts with you!


  1. Beautiful photos and a very profound lifeview!!! If only everyone could show even a part of the compassion you discussed, it would be a much more wonderful world. You were very eloquent!!! You are definitely capable of writing a book.

  2. Thank you Sharon for such kind words!


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