Open Your Eyes

Scribbled Face on a Utility BoxDoing my daily inventory is sometimes a pain in the neck. But one really positive thing that’s come out of it for me over the last six months is that I make myself look beyond my narrow me-focused world to see things and people. Here are some of the questions I answer every day:

  1. What did I do today that I like and respect myself for? (or: How did I behave better than I felt?)
  2. What did I do for someone else today?
  3. What happened today that I enjoyed and appreciated that had nothing to do with me?
  4. Where did I have problems today? (or Where did I feel bad or negative today?)
  5. What am I proudest of today?
  6. What made me feel feminine today?
  7. On a scale of 1 – 10, how much close interaction did I have with people today?

I’m really good at seeing the problems that get in my way but it’s often been hard to think up things that made me feel feminine or that I enjoyed or appreciated. Knowing that I’m going to have to answer the questions, though, has helped me heighten my awareness and actually, well, appreciate both the questions and the things they focus on.

Clean hair and earrings are sometimes the best I can do on the “what made me feel feminine?” question but usually there’s something else — for example, a compliment on a piece of jewelry reminds me of how pretty or interesting it is and how much I enjoy wearing it. Or simply wearing clothes with colors that work rather than just something that fits can make me feel prettier and therefore more feminine.

The big ones for me, though, are the questions about interactions with people and things I enjoyed and appreciated. I’m not necessarily spending more time interacting with folks but I am very aware that I’m already doing things for other people — being a listening ear, cleaning things up in the bathroom, helping an elderly neighbor with trash, letting cars cut in front of me without yelling at them, giving directions to a lost tourist. When I’m feeling isolated or cranky, it helps to remember that I’m doing things to pull me out of my hole.

Now every day as I move from morning to bedtime, I’m seeing the world around me. The deer eating leaves outside my apartment, the single red leaf on a tree of green, cute little babies being pushed in strollers, the color and bustle of the college campus, funny window displays, chalk drawings on the sidewalk, pretty flowers on a stoop, aromas from a busy kitchen, the smile on the face of the bus driver.

Yesterday on the way home the bus was stopped at a light and I noticed that the scribblings on a metal utility box across the street looked like a face. I pointed it out to the woman next to me who grinned and then said, “Thank you for showing me that. I guess that’s what I needed to learn today, to open my eyes and enjoy the things around me even as I’m scurrying from work to class to home.”

Who knew that opening my own eyes and initiating conversation could hit home like that?