Seeing Like a Baby

    A baby is fascinated with everything. Everything is new and strange to it, so it pays attention to everything. And a baby doesn’t have any prejudices yet so one new thing is just as interesting as another. It is just as fascinated by a humble dandelion as it is by the most elegant tea rose. A pebble is as interesting as a mountain, a caterpillar as much fun to watch as a squirrel. As we get older, and things become familiar, we loose that. Everyday things no longer seem interesting because we have seen them many time before. That is unfortunate, because the truth is, no matter how many times we have seen familiar things and familiar places, they are never exactly the same twice. We don’t notice the subtle differences however because we no longer pay attention. I have, for example, seen a number of people run a stop sign in the neighborhood they live in because the stop sign was new so they simply didn’t see it. They have drove through that intersection hundreds of times and there was never a stop sign there before, so now that one has been put there, they don’t see it unless someone points it out to them, usually the cop who stops them for running it. 
    Not only do things change more than we notice in a physical sense, but they also change on a spiritual level. We may not be able to see what is happening on a spiritual level—not without training anyway—but at some level we can sense these changes. We don’t even sense them when we rush past everything and never look around us because we have walked this path a thousand times before so we think we have seen everything there. 
    We need to think like a baby, or at least a small child, again. We need to look around us and be aware and interested in everything. See the big picture, and the small. See the school yard and the clump of wild violets. See the bird carefully building a nest one twig at a time. See the homeless family sleeping in an alleyway. See the changes in the climate and in the sun. And just maybe, you will manage to see a bit of the spiritual world in the corner of your eye before it disappears when you turn your eyes for a closer look. You don’t really need special training to do this. Just try it a few time intentionally and it will soon become a habit. If necessary, you can make a list and write down one new thing you see each day on your walk. Or write a haiku about it. Part of the secret of writing good haiku is noticing what other miss.

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