• vslachman

What You See Is Who You Are

Lately everywhere I look there seems one challenge after another--the world appears fraught with chaos and colliding interests, not many of which are being resolved. And quite often, my small corner of the world seems a reflection of the larger dissonance echoing from nation to nation and from one natural disaster to another.

Dorian and I have been spending a lot of time together not riding lately. That hasn't been fun, and instead has been mighty challenging . . . Many months, in fact, we've spent not riding. At first, he wasn't feeling very well--he was in pain from his injury and in very poor condition (which happened in the blink of an eye, it seemed!), so we plodded through our time together without much spark.

Then I realized I wasn't helping him. My attitude was feeding his attitude and vice versa. When you love someone it's hard to see them not feeling well. I was giving in to that in a big way--and while empathy is positive, my thought periodically fell into depression, sorrow, fear for his future, and feeling horribly responsible. That was not helping him. He needed buoyant, positive energy coming from me, and that started with my thought.

He's looking for my positive attitude. Or (more likely) carrots!

I took a step back.

I know there's a larger principle at work, always, that counteracts chaos and contention, a principle that may seem out of sight, but is merely dependent on my conscious awareness of it. Quantum physics tells us, for example, that a material event or thing doesn't exist until it's observed. Consciousness, in other words, is a salient determining factor in experience.

And way back in the early 1900's Ernest Rutherford, the English physicist, noted that matter is mostly empty space. Current physicists are increasingly realizing that consciousness is a "field"--meaning it's everywhere, like gravity. It fills those empty spaces, and is the "All-in-All" (I think) noted in Scripture.

Dorian pondering his universe.

But the lesson I needed had to do with seeing. It's such an interesting phenomenon. Heidegger, the famous Continental philosopher, observed that we don't see a material world "out there" that exists absent from us, but that we're constructed so as to experience the world in the way we do.

"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Heidegger's idea was another way of saying that we determine what we experience. Or, as Cartier-Bresson observed, that what we see in the outer world is determined by what's in our heads and hearts.

And so we come to who we are . . . which was something, in my experience with Dorian, I was about to understand a bit better.

Whenever I was with Dorian, or thought about him, I consciously chose to see him as whole and restored to his healthy self. Which was good, but there was a larger lesson.

It seemed as if many scientific, creative, and philosophic investigations are circling around the idea that thinking, consciousness--not "matter" as we normally think of it--is the world we actually exist within.

Peaceful grazing at the rescue. So many times, I just sat out in the pasture with the horses and drank in the serenity.

As I kept my more positive thought about Dorian always in mind, I felt released from the sad situation I'd been so focused on. I was free to see Dorian more clearly--his large and noble spirit, his intelligence, his humor and stubbornness (!), his sweet nature, his beauty . . . that resulted in Dorian instantly responding more positively, and with more of an interest in his rehab. His eye, too, was bright, his step more energetic.

We were getting there!

Then on a walk with Lily out to the trail along the creek, I listened to the crunch of my boots in the snow, watched a hawk start up from the tree, saw the snow resting on the limb of an elm. It was amazingly peaceful and beautiful (my photo doesn't do it credit).

And I realized how incredible the gift of sight is, and how wonderful it is to recognize beauty and grace and spirit, and all the other lovely things we see in each other and in the world. Then I also realized that in this type of "vision," we're not seeing something outside of ourselves . . . we have to possess these attributes ourselves to recognize them in the world around us. That's why I titled this post as I did. It's a heads-up about how we can all appreciate who we more are profoundly, more consistently, as we witness it surrounding us each day. It does take discipline, but that leads (I think) to not just appreciating what's "out there," but what's inside each of us, as well.

Sleepy Dorian and his new girlfriend, Goldie, agree .

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