With so many things competing for your attention, what do you want to see? It’s an important question, easily forgotten in the cacophony of life.
In March of 2006, my little family of three moved from Seattle to Dallas, and with our move came growing pains. Seattle and Dallas are very different cities with very different cultures. I had lived in Seattle for 15 years. Made dear friends. Did some great work. Loved the mountains. The water. It was home.
When I arrived in Dallas, to say that I experienced “culture-shock” would be an understatement. My heart and soul were in revolt. I was not in my happy place. I pouted a lot. I didn’t participate. I shut myself up in life, ate a lot of carbs, and waited for Dallas to pass. But it didn’t.
For the first year and a half all I could focus on was what I didn’t like. See! See how different Dallas is! See how I don’t fit in! I spent an enormous amount of energy proving myself right and I was miserable.
One year, two months, and seven days (but who was counting?) later, something shifted. I can’t tell you what ignited the change, I really don’t know. But somehow, an internal change took place. I stopped looking for what was wrong and all of the sudden discovered so much that was right. Neighbors who made me feel like family. Warmth and friendliness from strangers in the line at Starbucks. Giant live oak trees that filled the sky. Sunshine in February! I fell head-over-heels in love with Dallas!
Here’s the thing: Dallas didn’t change. I did.
We see what we look for and we prove ourselves right every time. What are you looking for? What do you see?
Last December we took a trip to Florida and found ourselves in shell paradise. My son and I collected hundreds of shells, of all colors, shapes and sizes. As we sifted through our treasure I asked him, “Which shell is the best?” and he looked up at me with his big green eyes and said, “Mom, they’re all beautiful! There is no best.”
Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing if we could look at our fellow human beings this way? What if we could push back the blinds of suspicion, judgement and cynicism, look beyond our differences, and see how much we have in common? How might that change what we see? What if we suspended our defenses and let people see who we really are? How might that change the way we’re seen?
What if we could push back the blinds of suspicion, judgement and cynicism, look beyond our differences, and see how much we have in common?
We moved from Dallas to NY four years ago, and when my husband told me about his job offer in “the city” I was devastated. For you see, Dallas had become home. But as we packed to build a new life in NY, I carried my revelation with me. I challenged myself to see with new eyes. Instead of looking for all that was wrong, I sought to find all I wanted to see – wonderful people, abundant opportunity, a beautiful life. And you know what? We see what we look for.
Last night, in the wake of the tragic events in Orlando, I scrolled through my Facebook page feeling distraught, and angry, and so very, very sad. I was flooded and overwhelmed, yet somehow managed to remind myself to look for evidence of what I wanted to see. We see what we look for. Page after page after page I saw loving, caring, incredible people and beautiful things in the world. In spite of the horror and sadness I felt, I could see there is more good than bad. More love than hate. More hope than despair.
In spite of all the horror and sadness, there is more good than bad. More love than hate. More hope than despair.
We have big, scary challenges ahead of us and there are no easy answers. The pain is very real and very justified. I am not suggesting a pollyanna world-view, I am suggesting that if we’re to come together to find our way through this – to heal and excavate real solutions – we must carry a beacon of light and not lose ourselves in the fog of anger and fear.
If we’re to heal and excavate real solutions – we must carry a beacon of light and not lose ourselves in the fog of anger and fear.
We see what we look for. What do you want to see? Whatever you choose, you’ll be right.
Spoiler Alert: Then My House Burned Down
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