“Open your eyes!”
This is a command I’ve heard jokingly, and literally, for a long time, since I am a typical Asian with eyes that crinkle and appear closed when I laugh or smile, even while they’re open. Recently, a student reminded me the importance of opening my eyes, in a figurative sense, about how much more one can experience with her eyes open, as we were editing one of her college essays. The giant chicken she spotted a few blocks from my home, that I’ve driven past dozens of times, that brought her and her family an afternoon of giggles. The cat for which I stopped tires screeching, as she darted across the street, both of us panting in the panic of a potential killing. The leaning tree that my 5 year old friend excitedly pointed out as we were walking down the street, demanding I take a picture on my phone, while she cackled with laughter, since the tree reminded her of the leaning Tower of Pisa, which had squished our avatar in a video game the evening before. (BTW, I was walking with her in the middle of a work day, distracted by the “things to do list” in the office, fretting about how I was going to get them all done, paying little attention to the sun shining or the cool winter air, let alone the leaning tree.) Now, if that last example wasn’t something more trying to get my attention in a B I G way to tell me to “OPEN MY EYES!”, I’m going to have to return my Harvard degree with my apologies and restitution.
As romantic as the notion of “Open Your Eyes” sounds, and the benefits can be numerous, the efforts to be attentive is more than many of us will apply consistently. I, for one, cannot raise my hand high and confidently declare that I’ve been that deliberately conscious since seeing the leaning tree a few weeks ago. Start small. Walk away from the computer for 60 full seconds. Step out on the porch or in the backyard and smell the rain – just take one deep breath. Watch kids to learn to be present in the moment. They seem to do effortlessly what seemingly takes monumental acts of Congress AND the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces to enact for me. They’ll loosen me right up, if not with their energy, then with their irresistible pleas, “Jill, JILL, JILL watch me!” There they go; opening my eyes.