”Part of what restricts us seeing things is that we have an expectation about what we will see, and we are actually perceptually restricted by that expectation. In a sense, expectation is the lost cousin of attention: both serve to reduce what we need to process of the world “out there”. Attention is the more charismatic member, packaged and sold more effectively, but expectation is also a crucial part of what we see. Together they allow us to be functional, reducing the sensory chaos of the world into unbothersome and understandable units.” – Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes
I found beauty through changing the lens of my focus today.
We had a travel day today. We left the house at 6:00am and arrived in Costa Rica at noon. Normally travel days have me anxious. I wake up worried I am forgetting something or that I haven’t spent enough time with the people that I will miss as soon as the plane takes off. I catch myself taking several deep breaths as I prepare for the dozens of lines I will find myself in – waiting at security, waiting at the gate, waiting to get off the plane, waiting to get through customs, waiting to get out of the airport.
Instead of allowing myself to get caught up in the frenetic energy of our movement today, I made a different intention in the morning. I balanced expectation and attention by focusing my vision on a colour today, a colour I knew I would encounter several times.
Today I paid attention to the different shades of blue that graced my view.
I blurred my vision slightly to focus on this colour in order to reduce the “sensory chaos of the word into unbothersome and understandable units.” Instead of becoming overwhelmed with the noise, the close quarters, the bickering family members, and the crowded areas, I chose to simply look for blue.
Taking note of the blue-grey airport seats to the bright clear sky blue visible from a high altitude, I created a distance from what I could grasp or ever hope to represent in a painting.
An appreciation for the beauty of blue pulled me into a comfortable longing.
“We love to contemplate blue,” Goethe wrote, “not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.”
Blur your vision right now. What colour and tone can you focus on? What do you see? Try it for a day and take note what mood and form inhabits your day.
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