“Put your hand in mine and let us help one another to see things better.” – Claude Monet
Tell me, what did you see today? I want to know what you actually saw and noticed. For instance, when you walked out your door, did you notice the blue sky, those fluffy white clouds, the beautiful dappled light under the trees in a neighbor’s yard? Or, were you in such a rush, head down, desperately trying to arrive on time to one too many scheduled appointments, and you completely missed any and all beauty? Sadly, all of us have walked in those busy, frazzled shoes, and if truth be known, probably far too many times for our own well-being. But, there is another way – a better way. We must stop, slow down, open our eyes, see the beauty that lies within a glance, for us to savor each and every day.
By now, if you have been following my columns, you know my mother was a grand gardener and in her garden was a magnificent Golden Rain Tree. I am including a photo of one of these beauties for those of you who may have not had the joy of seeing one in bloom. To see a Golden Rain Tree in bloom, with the sun shining on its golden curls is breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking. This being said, one lovely day in June, mom had been out shopping with a friend and on their return, she said to her friend, “Oh, look at the sun shining on the golden curls of my tree.” Her friend replied, “what tree?” She had looked directly at the tree, but did not see. How sad. And, I thought of all the beauty in this world she has most likely missed.
Artists, such as Claude Monet and Roger Mühl completely understood the importance of seeing well. Monet and Mühl , along with many other artists, were drawn to the brilliant light of the Provence region of France. This dazzling light enabled them to see so clearly – to capture natural beauty. And, capture beauty they did. Their magnificent talent displayed on their canvasses will outlive us all. Roger Mühl could see and paint the color blue so vividly you feel as though you are part of the painting. The intense blue in his paintings makes my heart pound, as does just about everything of Claude Monet’s. From these artists, breathtaking beauty was created for the world to enjoy.
Several years ago, while still living in Virginia, I was in the home and garden section of my favorite book store. While on the hunt for a particular book, another literally fell off the shelf and into my hands. Understand, I need no convincing, I absolutely know there was a “book store fairy” on the shelf who pushed this particular book into my hands (I believe in such things). The book was titled, “Open Your Eyes,” by Alexandra Stoddard. At that point, I was not familiar with Alexandra. Truly, I must have been living under a rock, as she was the author of 19 books, previous to the one pushed into my hands. Needless to say, this book went home with me.
Have you ever read a particular author and felt they knew you, and were speaking directly to you regarding your passions? Immediately, I connected with Alexandra’s writing. And, as a point of interest, her book “Open Your Eyes,” is 300 pages devoted to the importance of seeing well. She is passionate about the subject. Her opening sentence in this book reads: “How well we see and what we see matters because we are the ones who direct our glances and, by so doing, determine how vibrantly we will live.” Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
Having been raised by a mother who clearly understood beauty and vision, through the years I have probably seen more in my daily rounds than many. However, Alexandra gave me, eyes WIDE open. Her words connected with me on a deeper level and I began to truly appreciate how vitally important it is for all of us to comprehend the message of “opening our eyes.” When our eyes are open, we become discerning and therefore we are empowered to make our homes and communities places of beauty.
It is my belief that we must be taught to truly see – to “get it.” We are not born with this awareness. Someone or something must “open our eyes.” The pursuit and appreciation of beauty brings meaning and joy to our lives. So please my friends, let us “join hands, and help one another see things better.” Because, as Joseph Campbell once said, “Awe is what moves us forward.”
See you soon,
Alexandra Stoddard spoke to a group of over 200 hundred people in Clarksburg, West Virginia on April 26, 2008. Her talk was titled “Beauty Inspires Your Joy of Living.” Mike and I enjoyed every moment we spent with Alexandra and her husband, Peter, during the weekend they were in our area. I can honestly tell you, Alexandra lives and believes from her very core, all that she writes. If you are not familiar with her work, become acquainted – she is inspiration beyond words – at least my words.
Over the years, I have remained in touch with Alexandra. She is my inspirational and special friend who I met, via a “book store fairy.”
Photo 1: By Júlia Barbon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32849715
Photo 3: Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo 4: Montagne le matin
Photo 5: Book Cover of Open Your Eyes by Alexandra Stoddard
Photo 6: Alexandra Stoddard in her Garden