“Seeing” me

Blooming for Valentine's Day

I got a little damp practicing my macro photo skills on rhododendron buds when the rain came back this afternoon. It seemed appropriate to post something springy, pinky, and pretty for Valentine’s Day. I can’t say that this is my photographic strong suit, but I love the results, and immersing oneself in flowers on a rainy afternoon seems to be a very pleasant way to spend a bit of time alone.

Valentine’s Day is one of those occasions that often makes me a little bit uncomfortable. There are all those EXPECTATIONS that lurk around the day and put a lot of pressure on people. But, I kind of liked it this year. Since I’m home all alone, I decided to practice being in love with myself. Not in some kind of give myself presents, eat lots of chocolate or take myself out to dinner kind of way, but in an appreciative sort of way. I found this quote early in the day, which set the tone:

“How few understand what love really is, and how it arises in the human heart.

It is so frequently equated with good feelings toward others, with benevolence or nonviolence or service.  But these things in themselves are not love.  Love springs from awareness.  It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and how and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.

“The first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking …a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism.  When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person’s need or your own?”  ~ Anthony De Mello SJ

Reading this, I started thinking about how much of this blog addresses the issues that arise from not feeling truly “seen”, and this starts with one’s self. If I truly “see” myself, I am free to love myself. There is no self-judgement or self-loathing because seeing is purely observing. We don’t see with judgement. That is not seeing. The judgement happens after, when what I see gets compared to some exterior standard that I choose measure against. So I decided to practice on myself, because, I figure, if I can’t do it on myself, I surely can’t do it with another person – even my children. Expanding upon this, the title of this blog hits on the question of being seen because what makes me (and, I venture others) squirm, is the measuring stick by which we judge ourselves and are judged by others. If I truly “see” myself, I won’t squirm. I know the truth of the reality of who I am. It bothers me that other women aren’t seen and suffer in the same ways that I have and do, that’s why I am writing this publicly, its not just a personal emancipation project. I think the key lies in a compassionate appreciation of one’s self first. I need to “see” the reality of me, and appreciate that, then turn that face out to the world and “see” others in the same way. Tracking back to a couple of days ago and the question of selfishness, I realize what I don’t like about that word. Its one I banned from my vocabulary years ago. I think it was a staple in the vocabulary of Catholic parents in the 60’s and 70’s. I have long believed that we are all selfish anyway – that we do everything in a “selfish” way, and that its actually impossible to do it any other way because we can only stand in our own shoes and see through our own eyes. So if we are going to see ourselves as we truly are, we are going to learn to accept that reality too. This doesn’t mean that we don’t do things for other people. And, in my experience, stay-at-home moms are extremely giving people – sometimes maybe more than is good for them. But I don’t think I (for example) am unselfish. It simply feels good to do something for another person. It pleases me. Therefore I’m ultimately doing it for me.

On that note, I think I better stop. This is a much longer discussion than I can chase any further tonight. And it does bleed into many areas. If anyone reading this wants to pipe up and chase it around for a while, that would be great. I’d love to “see” your thoughts too. In the mean time, I see that I’m needing a good night’s sleep tonight, so its time to go take care of that. For me…♥

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