Monday, February 15, 2010

Seeing More...

I should have known when I saw this not-quite-grown, red-shouldered hawk...who squawked at me because I was getting too close...


I should have known that I might have some new insight on this day.

You see, we went to Florida over the holiday weekend to visit my father. And, for Valentine's Day, we went treasure-seeking on the beach.

It was chilly but beautiful. And there was lots of flotsam and jetsam on the beach that had washed ashore from the storm the previous day.


Lots of the sea's detritus...fragments...but not many shells. OK. Not many "good" shells...at least, that's what I overheard my fellow shell seekers say as they stooped and picked and tossed the unwanted bits and pieces...rejecting them.


Hmmm. This got me thinking about what we consider beautiful. Why aren't all shells beautiful? What makes one more beautiful than another?

Are the only beautiful shells those that look like the ones we find in the encyclopedia or maybe those that are printed on a greeting card at Hallmark -- ?


Is it the physical shell itself or is it our thinking about the shell that drives our conclusion?

What if, because we choose to see differently, and we think just a little harder...

What if those rejects become part of something new and beautiful?

Like a seashell tree.

A place for all of the sand-worn, time-beaten shells...a retirement home...a place to shell out...

It is so unexpected! The whole idea of a seashell tree is delightful to me!

And there was so much more to see on the beach this day. So many small animals that lost the fight against the ocean's current and landed on the shore...to inspire us.

Like this pattern on the crab shell.


And this horseshoe crab vignette with it's feather perfectly placed. And unbelievably, I didn't "style" these pics...they were arranged by the sea.


Like this sweet, little purple urchin who lost his spines in the current...

It made me think...Just like how we cursorily dismiss the shells on the beach that are not perfect...and just like how I watched person after person walk right by all of that wonder that had washed up on shore without even looking...

It made me realize that we treat human beings the same way. We're always looking for what isn't there versus what really is...and we miss so much.


And if you happen to be someone who isn't very good at packaging themselves into an entertaining, 5-second sound-byte, complete with bells and whistles...How often do we really spend the extra time it takes to look a little deeper? To get a bigger sense of the human being that stands before us?


Oh. I am so guilty. So guilty of being busy and making snap judgments. Of being lazy, and not wanting to do the "work" to find out more about someone.

And as I sat and thought...My eyes turned to my husband Jim, my beach-combing Valentine. People often dismiss him after the introductory, obligatory five-second hello.


Jim is gentle and quiet. He isn't the life of the party and he isn't about to toot his own horn to get noticed. He'd rather not.

But if you bother to be patient. To take the time to get to know him. To stop and examine and really look -- there is truth and depth and richness to behold. Not the kind that catches the eye at first glance...but the kind that shines deeply from within -- the best kind. And if you bother to make the effort to become his friend, you'll have the most selfless, loyal friend you could imagine.

It was Jim who pointed out how this broken sea urchin -- when viewed from the inside out -- has five small hearts at its center.

Jim notices a lot.

This nine-armed sea star was still alive so he threw him back...

What beauty we found that day! I think it was one of the most amazing beach-combing days we've ever had. And we hardly found any shells.

We saw so much more than we normally do.

And, it's not like those hidden treasures haven't been there all along...we just hadn't seen them before.

And speaking of hidden treasures, did you happen to see the performance by slam poet Shane Koyczan at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (see it here)?? His poem titled "We Are More" (transcript here) blew me away...it is all about "seeing more". And I was so excited to see poetry of all things at an opening ceremony for athletes! And, Shane was found because he had posted his work on YouTube...not hidden anymore after Friday's performance...


And did you know that eighty countries around the world have been working over the past 10 years to make a Census of Marine Life -- past, present and future? And that the book is due out in March? And, that when the team actually began to really see and study what was living in our oceans...that they found over 6,000 new species for us to look at?


There is indeed so much more to see.

Phew. A little long-winded today...I'll be amazed if any of you are still here...

30 comments:

Wanda said...

The tribute you made to your Valentine brought tears to my eyes. And your pictures are wonderful...so real, so lonely, so subtle. The colors are that way too.

Robin said...

I'm here... soaking up every word... every photo!

Catherine said...

Thank you for such a beautiful post! No need to say more....

méri said...

Such a moving post!
thank you

Walden said...

lovely post!

Dolores said...

A beautiful post and one that takes time to read - relaxed and enjoyable.

tirane93 said...

refreshing and thoughtful. thank you for sharing this post.

Debbie said...

Awesome post today! We not only have to take the time to "see" more, we must also take the time to "hear" more. I painfully learned through my mothers Alzeheimers that although the last year of her life she didn"t speak anymore, she was STILL teaching me valuable lessons. Debbie (Maine)

Elizabeth said...

You ahd better believe that I am still here!! you are such a wonderful writter!! I love what you ahd to say about Jim. I am married to "a Jim " named tom. very bright very sensitive very caring very quiet, often overlooked- such diamonds!!!
I lvoe wht you ahd to saya bout shells!! The ones tha I look for now are the ones that I used to throw back because I was told that they were no good- they had holes-other sea creatures ahd wrecked them. How easily our perceptions are swayed especailly when we are little. Your photos are magic and I love your shell tree!!!
I share your love for the ocean and the creatures of it- now I look at every speck that comes ashore and rescue and treasure the cast offs- especailly the ones with the holes!!!!!
Hugs!
E

Lisa said...

Amen!

SHELL'S SHED said...

Still here - still listening - still learning.
Thank you x

FredaB said...

Thank you for a wonderful trip along the beach. Living here in Central Florida it is the one thing I really miss. I used to walk the beach picking up shells and now you have taken me back.

Glad you had a little Valentine break with your Dad. Hope all is well with him.

Hugs

FredaB

ps - Pics are gorgeous as usual.

Carol said...

Yep, still here. Agreeing with all you say. Noticing how beautiful the sand is there. Looks like tiny diamonds amound the grains. Much like the people we sometimes overlook. I think the older we get, the more we really see the world and people around us.

Terry took me for an early Valentine Lunch on Saturday to the Ponderosa Steak House. Its a chain with an nice buffet salad bar. We like to go there for Chicken Wings. We noticed a ton of people in line....well here they came pushing tables together to sit next to our table. We then realized they were mentally handicapped older teens. There were a couple of adults there to help and guild them. Without being obvious, we watched while one lady took time to do whatever needed to be done, talked to them in a soothing voice, gave them all the patience in the world. I wondered what Terry thought. I thought that I wanted to tell her what a special person she was. I wished that I could do something special for her. She was like one of those diamond grains I mentioned earlier.

Terry is one too, because when we left, he commented what a special person that young lady was.

I'm certainly chatty today, huh!

Thank you for making your blog a place to stop with a cup of coffee and enjoy a friendly visit.
xx, Carol

BTW, I had read about the Ocean Census, but was not aware there would be a book.

Dees said...

Oh yes, I am with you all to the end of your post and wishing it hadn't ended! Really! Nature (including us humble beings) is a gift and you are so right in saying that we often do not take the time and effort to stand still and marvel at it.
Today I went to the little store in the hospital and saw a book the title of which had been roaming through my mind ever since I first saw it in an ad. It's called: "29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life" by Cami Walker. I have had a hard time putting it down because it keeps calling out my name. We don't treasure enough!
And as for your Jim: I would love to get to know him, he sounds like a one-in-million type of person and you are lucky he hooked up with you (lol).

Nellie's Needles said...

Your tribute to the special Valentine in your life is touching and wonderful.

Thank you for you tribute to rest of us, too, as well as to nature's humble gifts.

Loralynn said...

Lovely photos and wonderful comments about your husband. We often overlook the gentle souls, like you said.

Lisa said...

P.S. I just wanted to say how moving your tribute to your husband Jim is. (I need to find a husband like that too :) )
P.S.S. Have you seen the Cornish shell strings where the shells with holes are strung on string and hung to make ehtereal windchimes? They use only the shells with holes in them. I thought of them when I saw your shell tree!
~loved your post today and have been back a couple of times to re-read it!

Marty52 said...

Lovely post, Susan. Those of us who get the 5-second and move on bit thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Your hubbie must be a wonderful man. Love your shell tree and LOVE the photo with the seaweed (3rd photo down) and shells. Thanks for this.

Laura said...

Beautiful post. Thank you!

Judy S. said...

Wonderful post, Susan, every last word of it! Great photos, all the shells and the hawk. Nice you found Jim, and he's lucky to have you!

Lynn said...

Yep. Still here. still hanging on every word and image. How often we all look but do not see.

Allison Ann Aller said...

God is the Ultimate Stylist!

Having met your Jim, I can attest to everything you have said. His sweetness and selflessness was so inspiring...Glad you had such a meaningful and gorgeous Valentine's Day together...

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

Mrs. Wind Bag you may be, but I enjoyed this post also! I really enjoyed your shell tree, and am imagining others viewing it and maybe having their day changed for the better!

Ralonda said...

That last picture of Jim is an amazing composition!

Peggy said...

Thank you for sharing some beautiful pictures.

Robin said...

Jim with the sea star is a fabulous picture and so is the shell tree... Besides that, your thought-provoking post will stick with me for days... Love, Robin A.

Johnny Moss said...

This is brother John making my first post on any blog. I have to say I am so impressed with your blog Suz. I must admit I've only taken the time to scratch the surface of all you have here.

The photos from Florida and your comments are great. Made me think of the line from the poem (not sure of the author)...

"...to see the world in a grain of sand..."

Thought you might like this so I am sending a copy to you.

Johnny

http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/26930000/26930364.jpg

Johnny Moss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

Wow !!!I love how you got such close ups of all the odd ones that we don't even think to look for, its been awhile since I have been to any beach, but if I ever go agian I will be on the look out for them.I love the shell tree,I have a whole collection of shells in boxes,your post has inspired me to do more.

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