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Editorial: Nov. 30 – Seeing

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“I’ve been thinking about seeing,” writes Annie Dillard, renowned essayist, novelist, poet, and nature enthusiast.  Her ruminations on seeing are largely focused on observing the natural world around us.

“I’m always on the lookout for antlion traps in sandy soil, monarch pupae near milkweed, skipper larvae in locust leaves,” she writes. Dillard documents her efforts toward really looking at the world around her, from observing huge things like the Milky Way, to tiny things like amoebae in a drop of pond water. “It’s all a matter of keeping my eyes open,” she says.

Thanks to Annie, I have also been thinking about seeing. The season is changing, and I’m looking forward to seeing things in the snow. Footprints (or paw prints), frost patterns, the fog of breath in the air — it’s all so often overlooked.

You should see, too. When you’ve finished the papers, presented the group projects and taken the exams, you’ll be free for a month. Look around you. Observe the grey hairs creeping into your dog’s fur. Notice the way light enters the windows of your room.

Yes, yes, you say. We’ve heard this all before. We should learn to slow down and appreciate the unrecognized beauty of the everyday object.

So why don’t you try seeing something new? Something not “visible” in the strictest sense of the word.

See people’s good intentions. See relationships. See humor. See beyond the awkwardness to the abiding loyalty of families. See love.

It will take a little doing. You’ll have to set aside your cynical, post-modern, ironic, 20-something sensibilities and have a little faith in the goodness of people. You’ll have to look past advertising and passive-aggressive comments and the pair of socks you got but didn’t need for Christmas.

These things tend to be fleeting, quick smiles or curiously thoughtful offhand comments. Be ready, and you just might be surprised.

It’s all a matter of keeping your eyes open.

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