Children are such pure reflective devices. They notice or say something innocently and it strikes a chord.
That happened to me the other night as my husband, son and I watched Polar Express for the umpteenth time this holiday season. I was beginning to drift into an “I’ve seen this before” daze and as my mind began to wander, our 5-year old – eyes wide and excited – whispered something in a tone akin to amazement.
Having half entered a reverie that didn’t include a speeding train, screaming kids on that train, or Tom Hanks’ dulcet voice trying to contain the chaos on the aforementioned train, I didn’t quite catch my son’s observation. I asked him to repeat it.
He was noticing a detail that had somehow escaped his rapt attention the previous gazillion times he’s watched this movie. You see, we’re now going on three years of him asking for it the day after Thanksgiving and wanting to watch it right up through Christmas Eve … and yes, we often indulge that.
At any rate, this new tidbit of information was coloring his understanding of the storyline in some new way that left him in a state of awe and consideration.
And it struck me …
When the mind and heart are devoid of the assumption that we already know it all and know what’s coming,
the eyes can see with a fresh perspective so that our insight and knowledge can be deepened.
Discovery can be beautiful. It forges a tighter bond with that which we discover.
Jack’s joy at catching this data point and exploring its meaning made the whole movie new to him again. His expression was about as close to magical as I’ve ever seen (and yes, I know I’m a biased, doting mom, but it really was magical!). It pulled me back into the moment – watching the movie with him (not merely next to him) and looking for elements I had, to that point, either ignored or been blind to.
And I thought … how wonderful would it be if we could see one another with such fresh eyes!
What might that require of us?
Taking from my son’s experience, I’d guess it starts with being present. Fully focused on what’s immediately before us, eliminating distractions (gadgets and devices, ahem!), so we can softly absorb it all.
From there, perhaps we need a clean palette? Catching the judgments, opinions, assessments, and correlations we make instantaneously and setting those aside – maybe to be reconsidered later … maybe not. We all have them – these internal filters that so often lead us to misinterpret or mislabel what’s in front of us. If we can learn to recognize and manage them, we just might see what (or who) is actually there … not simply what or who we think we see or want to see.
Finally, being open to accepting what’s before us and giving it objective and due consideration, as well as license to expand our perception. Simply allowing what’s there to be … without right or wrong, good or bad … just seeking to understand how it all fits in.
My gut, and my experience, tell me that if we practiced “fresh eyes” with the people around us – even occasionally – we might see, know and understand our family, friends and colleagues in a way that enables discovery, renews connections and forges lasting bonds.
Wishing you and those you love a peaceful holiday season and fresh perspectives in 2017!