Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Do You See?

As writers, we have an eye for beauty


life in it's varied and precious forms

We have a gift of finding the extraordinary wonder in very ordinary situations.

That is why so many of us are also photographers, artists, composers or poets

We love to take the ordinary cup of coffee and build a beautiful story or image around it.

Truly, it is our gift.
Today I would like to ask: do we allow ourselves to use that same gift within the confines of our own lives?

Do we look at our homes, jobs, messy kitchen counters and see the extraordinary beauty in what we have been blessed with or do we just see the ordinary and mundane?

Shouldn't we allow ourselves to see the same wonder and beauty that we find in the outside world in our own lives first and foremost?

To recognize the amazing potential for story, craft and art in our immediate surroundings - even if they seem tedious and inconsequential and routine?

Just wondering...


Kelly H-Y said...

You are so right ... what a great way to think about it! Loved this post!

Davin Malasarn said...

Tess, I tend to be drawn to exactly what you are talking about. My favorite writers, Virginia Woolf, Leo Tolstoy, Alice Munro, they all seem to bring out the magic in ordinary life. I hope that's what I end up writing about too. I know I've got the mundane down--I just hope the magic is there with it!

L.T. Elliot said...

Now I just need to try and see the beauty in laundry. A well-folded towel has its grace, I suppose. =]

Ann Victor said...

Very true. We often don't see the miraculous in the ordinary. Osho in his book "Creativity" talks of creativity as being the ability to find joy in the most mundane experiences. Don't think of it as washing the kitchen floor with a mop. Rather, use the mop to paint an invisible picture (and before you know it the kitchen floor will be sparkling!)

JKB said...

Tess, how funny. I wrote about this today on my own blog, too!!

Great minds, and all that. :-)

Charlie said...

You’re right. We should appreciate the beauty in our lives. We really should. I wish I can.

To me life is tolerable at best. I don’t see the beauty in my day to day activities. I DO see it in nature, in my children, my kittens, and when I’m in a sappy mood, a sunset. (For some reason, a sunrise reminds me of work and it’s beauty is ruined)

Charlie said...

I also noticed in your photograph that the wineglass in darkness is half filled but the other isn't. The darkness is more inviting!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
~ William Blake

That's one of my favorites. Thought is tied in well.
~ Wendy

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

I think this is the ultimate struggle of writers. We write to escape the mundane sometimes and because we do that, we only see that mundane world instead of what it really could be.

That's not to say all writers write for escapism, but I think a good portion of it is like that.

Tess said...

Good Morning! What early birds you all are.

Kelly: it does take some thought, I agree, but worth it if we can change our perception.

Davin: me, too. It is a lofty goal, but a beautiful art when accomplished. Can you see any art when you are stuck in that rush hour traffic so common in your neck of the woods ;) I bet you can.

LT: Exactly my point! If we can make it art for our characters, why not for ourselves?

Ann: You have this down already, it is clear. I'll never scrub the kitchen floor the same way again :)

JKB: we do have great minds...will check your post out...

Charlie: my brother, who I love dearly, is much like what you describe. I try to tell him that we choose how we percieve things. I'll pass on the same challenge to you - because that's what friends do. They challenge and help and question each other. AND you noticed!! That half full glass in the darkness also intrigued me...

Wendy: how did I not know this quote? beautiful - it's going in the notebook. thanks :)

NWA: Certainly true. I totally write for escape and sometimes have to remind myself that the same wonder in my character's lives is right there within my own four walls. well said

storyqueen said...

Love this post and Wendy's quote, too.
The struggle is for balance....and the battle for me is seldom won!


Cindy said...

Tess, this is so true! I draw from reality so often for my stories but as a character in my own life :) I don't seem to enjoy it as much as my fictional characters do.

PJ Hoover said...

It's so true! It's like a reminder we need to enjoy life now and not worry so much about the small things.

Janna Qualman said...

Awesome post, Tess, and you've really made me think. I claim the creativity and beautification of words, but some of those things of my day-to-day life get pushed aside in the process. Must work on this.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

This is a great reminder, Tess. Thank you!

Sharon Mayhew said...

The day to day beauty around us could be how wonderful the carpet looks right after you've vacuumed it and all the fibers are standing tall. For me, I love to look at the artwork on the walls of my home and dream of being in those places. Of course I'm not talking about the abstract art, I don't want to be in a square or a triangle. Even dust can be beautiful. My dining room table gets very dusty, which drives me nuts, but if I pick up the big vase in the center of the table, below it is a perfect circle.

Scott said...

Great Post. I try to look at life with open eyes. I love to sit outside in the early morning, cup of coffee in hand, and just enjoy the world around me. I love the blue-blue color of the sky, the puffiness of the clouds (and I always, always see shapes in the clouds), and the smell of the petunias as I walk down the front walk. I love the smell of the air after a gentle, or hard rain. I love to watch the hummingbirds duke it out for dominance over the hummingbird feeder . . . with four slots. Silly birds, there's enough for all. I love the smell of freshly ground coffee. I love the feel of the grass between my toes as I walk slowly through the backyard and take the time to smell the lavender.

I took a picture of a gorgeous day lily late one afternoon. When I printed off the picture I realized there was a lady bug crawling toward the top of the flower, and an ant toward the bottom. I didn't see a picture of a lily with a lady bug and an ant. I titled the picture 'At The End of the Day' because I saw the picture as a representation of a fading, yet still beautiful flower, and the two bugs who were heading home at the end of the day. There was a story within the picture. There's a story everywhere I go and with everything I see. I guess that's why I'm a writer.

The dirty kitchen counter isn't just a dirty kitchen counter, it's something that will happen in a story, some place, some day.

Life, is what we make of it, and I try to make the best of every moment. I'm thankful of where I am in life, who my friends are, and just the fact that every moment of every day is a gift.


Sharon Mayhew said...

Isn't it great when you find something in a photo you didn't know was there...I've taken some water skiing photos and had fish jumping infront of the skier. I also had a fish jumping in a waterfall. Nice little surprises. :)

Scott said...

Sharon - I think the surprises in life are the best kind of all. It was so neat discovering the lady bug and ant. It's one of my favorite pictures of all time.

ElanaJ said...

I think I do. I turn my music up loud when cleaning. I let my daughter push the mop around with me, even though she makes a bigger mess than the one I'm trying to clean up. I sit in her room with her, watching Care Bears while I type on my "puter". I love walking outside with my kids, and just listening to what's around me.

Everyone needs that kind of moment, where they realize how small they are in this big, big world.

Lady Glamis said...

Great point, Tess.

*looks over at messy kitchen, whiny toddler, dirty floor*

I have a family and a comfortable home that's lived in. And it's beautiful!

Tess said...

Storyqueen: as long as we keep fighiting, it's all good, right?

Cindy: that's what I was thinking. How I can make chores interesting for my characters, but can't see anything but drudgery for me. Interesting.

PJ: yes, the here and now. and, the beauty of it all. :)

Janna: me, too. A work in progress, I am.

Kristen: you're welcome.

Sharon: beautifully said, friend.

Scott: I remember that photo! You posted it on your blog - it is a great one. I have to confess, when I was writing this post, I thought of you. I thought two things : 1)this is a good reminder for me to work on - and - 2)Scott has this down already. I can tell by your blog and by your writing. It's inspirational, really.

Elana: really? you are such a cool mom! where were you when I was growing up (I know, I know..not even a twinkle in your daddy's eye) but still!

Glam: beautiful and fleeting. enjoy it while she is little and still look up at you with longing eyes and open hearts. It fades, you know. Too quickly in hindsight.

MG Higgins said...

Hmm. I'll try to see the beauty in the ants that invade out house every time it rains, and if I can do that, I've really accomplished something! Nice post.

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

I try to see the beauty in all that is around, I truly love being outside.

Once I was having trouble with a chapter to one of my WIPs and was at wits end of what to write next...I needed inspiration. So instead of the usualy fingers to keyboard, I took pin and paper and sat on my daughter's bed and began to write. Amazed at what I conquered that day,not did I only have a brake through but I wrote 3 chapters instead of 1 "maybe I should do that more often." I write MG, as you know, and being in my daughter's room which is over ran with her drawings and paintings and all things innocent I was able to accomplish my goal for that day.

I love to live and live to love. I, as you know, recently have taken on a full work load of stuff to do, my nerves were shot...so I headed to my Doc. to talk about things.

I wound up crying and we talked longer than we should which prolly urked other patients but he is a good Doc. and ya know what he was talking about this exact same thing.

He said breathing is beautiful and a wonderful gift...so sometimes we just have to breath.

Abby said...

What an incredible post! Thanks for the perspective. I needed that today. :)

Anna C. Morrison said...

Yes, thank you for the reminder. :-) And I like your snippet, too, on the sidebar.

Robyn Campbell said...

Man! Beautiful post. Are you ever in a pensive mood. You've inspired my post for tomorrow. Thanks for reminding us all. Pal of mine, I'm proud to know ya! :)

Tess said...

MG: hehehehe...maybe not beauty...but art? certainly!

Sherry: thanks for sharing. How neat to have an experience like that - very cool.

Abby: I needed it, too. Glad it helped :)

Anna: oh, it's always fun to hear when someone notices the snippit and likes it - thanks!!

Robyn: can't wait to see your post tomorrow!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wow. I wasn't feeling well today, which always seems to depress me, and it's taken me a long time to make the blog rounds. So I've just found this wonderful post. I love how you have given me fresh perspective and permission, really, to see the beauty right here around me. There is so much to be inspired by. Thx.

lotusgirl said...

Yes. Indeed I do. Not always, but often. I love stories that do this well. I'm hoping that someday I will be able to do it well. I already know that you do.

morrow said...

Thanks for this reminder. I could not agree more. But it is hard to do. I get caught up in the tediousness and mundane viewpoint too much. But when ( occasionally see what is around me as both mundane and amazing, it elevates me for the moment. And I should practice this more.

Lazy Writer said...

Great post! I love finding extraordinary in the ordinary. It makes life so much more interesting, doesn't it?

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oooh, this is a great reminder! And also an excellent way to look at the toys my toddler currently has scattered across our living room;)

dellgirl said...

Ummmmmm..."messy kitchen counters,huh?"...well, no I had not thought about that one. Thanks for the reminder. I hope I remember it in a few minutes when I go through and see messes others have left.

Have a great weekend, Tess!

Dave said...

I like your point.

I do see it, at times, but at times I see nothing but what must be done. I'm a stacker and let's just say that stuff starts stacking up and up. Is there beauty in that? Sometimes yes, but other times it just feels like a mess.

If I wrote about the stacks I could do it in a beautiful way, because it would symbolize a meaningful life full of struggle and contribution.