Looking On Purpose

This summer, my wife and I took a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to a place of extraordinary beauty. I’m not a naturally observant person; I easily get adrift inside my own head, and I feared I would return with fuzzy, tunnel-vision memories of our trip.

To avoid this, I set myself some guidelines for using my camera, and some goals for journaling descriptions of what we saw (not just what I was thinking). Probably my most effective effort, however, was channeling my curiosity and wonder into a practice of looking on purpose.

For each magical sight, I tried to slow down, to absorb the mood of the scene, soaking in the atmosphere of the place. Then I tried to slow down even further, to notice what pieces were making up that atmosphere: the color of stone, the arrangement of hills and buildings, the feel of sun and wind and rain, ambient sounds and smells, the quality of the light.

I’m happy to say it worked. I brought home many vivid memories of the places we saw and the time we had together.

I got something else, too - something that might be just as valuable.

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