Sunday, October 25, 2009

When feelings color perceptions

Though we live only 45 minutes from one of the loveliest cities in the country, I rarely take the ferry into Seattle. But when we do go into the city, I love to bring my camera along to capture whatever calls to me.

It's always an adventure, taking the camera into the city, because the sights there are so different from the ones I'm used to on the island, and my eyes get this wonderful full feeling, as if they've been starved for a different way of seeing.

Being a worrier, I worry about that starved, restless feeling my eyes sometimes get: it's what leads me to want to travel, and to attend workshops, so you could say it's good and forces me to broaden my perspectives. But I live in what many people could think of as paradise -- it's rural, it's on the water, the air is fresh and pure... how could I want for more?

The fact is this: we humans get bored. Some of us get bored more easily than others. And, yes, the boredom can be a problem if it means we are avoiding going into some of the deep places; if the restlessness comes from not wanting to face or address something close to home. But just as we need to be brave enough to walk into the dark places, we also need to be gracious and gentle with ourselves, to lighten up, to give ourselves permission to take a break and do something fun -- even if that just means sitting in a chair for a few minutes with a cat on your lap, taking a ferry ride, or sharing a cup of hot chocolate with a friend.

Because the fact is we tend to see everything through the lens of whatever feelings are dominant in our lives at the time: those emotional responses color everything, just as the blue at the top of my windshield colors this image of the city. If we can create a little space, a little light, a little color in our lives the darkness won't seem quite so heavy -- and that space, light, and color will have its own effect on how we see the events that surround us, giving us a little additional buoyancy so we're not quite so likely to sink into that depression John Bunyan calls "The Slough of Despond."

You don't even have to actually DO something; sometimes even THINKING about something you might enjoy can perk you up a little -- which may be why the gratefulness exercise (you know, the one where each night before you go to bed you write down 5 things you were grateful for that day?) can prove so uplifting over time. It's always good to be reminded of the blessings of life -- and when you're not noticing the ones in your own life, you can take that time and think instead of the little things you love: maybe even pick one for every sense. So for me, today, at this one small moment in time, I think that would be: the taste of roasted garlic, the scent of stargazer lilies, the sound of Andrea Bocelli singing "Besame Mucho" (what can I say, some days I'm just a ridiculous romantic), the colors of blue and green in this photo, and the feel of a child's soft cheek.

My answers might be different a minute from now. But I have to say thinking about these things puts a smile on my face. So what puts a smile on yours?

1 comment:

Maureen said...

The answer to the question you pose?

Reading this post. Thank you.