I’m always looking for new ways to wake up to the life in front of me. This week I started playing with the idea of “five beautiful things.”
In any moment, particularly if I’m feeling stressed or out of sorts, I look for five beautiful things in my midst. I really look at them. I take them in—not just with my eyes but also with my mind and my breath and my heart. I spend a few moments just looking.
This morning, I’m in a bustling café. It isn’t particularly beautiful. But in a moment of feeling kind of bummed out and rushed and anxious, the thought popped up: look for five beautiful things.
The moment I raise my head, I see the red-gorgeous leaves of the trees out the window. Intensely rich as bowl of dark cherries. Hovering slightly in the wind, patiently waiting for our attention. Bold and unapologetic as they wait. Had I looked at them before this morning? Yes. Had I seen them? No.
Next, the face two seats down from me at the café. Clear, pale, freckled, trustworthy, unusual and familiar feeling all at once. Beautiful.
The bright green skirt of the woman walking past me, the green of summer. On this early day of spring, that is in itself a proclamation of good things to come.
The photos above the espresso bar, which I’ve seen at least a hundred times before. Three in a row, frame in arches. In looking at them I start to appreciate the miracle of someone taking the photograph, and the miracle of someone else framing them that way, the miracle of someone conceiving a design for this place. And then I start to feel the miracle that it is all here, and I’m here too. The miracle of a Saturday morning that is, that is now.
By the time it’s time to look for item number five, everything is looking beautiful. The white coffee cup is beautiful. It’s all starting to feel vibrating and alive and miraculous and now. (And I’m not even caffeinated yet).
So number five is, shockingly, the stop sign, right outside the window. It’s become stunningly gorgeous sometime in the past five minutes. It probably couldn’t have been beautiful thing number one, but through these eyes it’s a vibrant red. It’s the perfect shape composed above the green vines below and the brick building behind.
I’m left with this: There’s a way in which life is about looking. Looking closely. Looking with the intention to see beauty. Looking with curiosity and alertness. Looking with reverence for now.
Looking changes everything.
Right now, before you finish reading this post, and click over to the next window, will you find five things of beauty, of striking mystery, in your midst? Five things that are amazing out of their aliveness? Start with one or two, and take them in through your eyes, your mind, your heart and your breath. Spend a few moments with each, and the rest will take care of themselves.
What does “life is about looking” mean to you?