I’m chuckling to myself as I sit here baking in the summer sun. This summer we had record rain and cool temperatures, with exactly five total “sunny warm lake days.” Now that all the lake residents are gone, summer has finally arrived. The best is about to come as fall color begins to peek out of the green forests. I’m getting ready for a glorious fall. Soon I’ll experience color so vibrant it makes my eyes hurt and the crunch of leaves under my feet, the smells of apple cider and fields of pumpkins. Fall is my favorite time here in the Adirondacks.
I love seeing things through the eyes of others, especially fresh eyes. This week I’ve had an artist visiting from Australia (Colley Whisson) who had no previous knowledge of the area, its beauty, and its unique architecture. I loved the wonder in his eyes seeing the area for the first time, as he often points out things I no longer notice.
Things Leap Out
Any time we can walk in the perspective of others, we see things we can change or correct, and it helps us appreciate what we have. If I have a guest, I notice that I need to paint a door, fix a hinge, clean a spot on a rug that I don’t see when I look at these things every day. And all too often we take things, and people, for granted, because we’re used to them. When they are gone, we experience regrets for not enjoying our time with them to the fullest.
Last night the phone rang with a call from a family member who never calls, who is the partner of another family member. In the second before taking the call, our minds jumped to awful conclusions. Is someone sick or worse? We sunk in our seats in fear, only to find out the call was a followup on something completely unrelated. We were relieved. Then the thought crossed my mind that maybe we should be in contact more, see one another more.
What can you and I do to live more fully, to appreciate those we love more, and to make sure we are giving them our time and attention while we can?
My dad used to remind us not to be critical of someone because “you’ve never walked in their moccasins.” What can we be doing to be more sensitive to the needs and issues others are facing, without being told? What can we do to step up and help others in these moments?
What are others trying to tell us that we’re not hearing?
Recently I experienced something very personal with a family member who did not know how to share feelings, so we had no idea this person was hurting. I read the situation as weakness, immaturity, when in fact, I could not have been more wrong. Thankfully, it was discovered, so I could pay proper attention to the needs of the person.
Now that I know … how did I not see it?
I’m not one to live in regret; I’m one who lives with the consequences of my actions. But I do regret not being more attentive at times, not hearing when I thought I was listening, and ignoring the gnawing feeling that I needed to spend more time with someone, telling myself, “I’ll do it some other time,” only to discover later that time had run out.
Dumped and Depressed
I flash back to younger days when I had been dumped by the woman I loved, who had fallen in love with another man. I went to work every day, I saw people in social situations, but I was screaming on the inside, hoping someone would see something and ask, and give me someone to talk to. Yet no one did. I spilled a lot of tears and never experienced such heartache. I had to deal with it all alone, and it took me a long time. And I avoided relationships for years because I did not want to suffer like that ever again. It made me feel in control to avoid future pain.
How would things have changed if someone had listened a little more carefully, looked in my eyes to see that I wasn’t fine when I said everything was OK?
Someone in your life needs you right now, but there is a chance you’re not hearing them. Maybe they are in too much pain to ask for help, or too embarrassed. Someone needs you to see through their eyes. Maybe they’ve even said something, but you sloughed it off as whining or neediness.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, how much are we paying attention? What are we missing that someone is hoping we’ll ask about? What do we fear from asking questions that show we deeply care?
We can’t walk in the shoes of others, we can’t feel what they are feeling, but we can be there for them. Let’s you and I spend this week listening more carefully. Listen with your heart and your eyes. Don’t be in a hurry. Doing so may make a major difference in someone’s life.
PS: Sometimes I feel like I need to duck every time someone sends an e-mail. Like you, I get more e-mail than I want and I become numb to it. It’s a pattern of “click and delete,” and doing it over and over.
This week I was about to delete another e-mail from someone whose name I did not recognize, assuming it was spam. But it was from a reader who shared some personal things about how Sunday Coffee has helped. This makes it all worthwhile. I can’t share details, but everyone loves to hear about the meaning they have provided. Be sure to go out of your way to share with others what they mean to you. Make a habit of doing it daily.
It’s gonna be a busy fall. I have a big online webinar coming up soon (watch for it), then Fall Color Week (sold out), then the Fine Art Trip behind the scenes in Stockholm and Madrid (there are still a couple of seats), and then Realism Live, our online art conference with top masters. And our Japan painting trip in March is getting closer. Though it’s sold out, we’ve been working on getting more seats and we think we can probably squeeze a couple more in, so get on the waiting list.
Live life. Don’t buy fear. Treat yourself to great things. You deserve it.