Be Mindful of the Wonder, January 7, 2021

woods in winter .jpeg

“What we see in the world around us is to a large extent a matter of choice. Do we take time every day to look, really look, at things? To find the beauty, or the humor, or the charm, or the mystery in them?...The best advice that I can think of for becoming more mindful is to read—and reread—Helen Keller’s essay “Three Days to See.”

Keller, who lost her sight and hearing when she was nineteen months old as a result of an illness, writes about what she would do if she were given back the use of these senses for just three days. In the essay, she recounts a conversation she had with a friend who returned from an hour-long walk in the woods. Keller asks her friend what she saw, and the friend replies, “Nothing in particular.” Keller wonders how it is possible to walk through the woods and yet see nothing worthy of note:

"I who am blind can give one hint to those who see—one admonition to those who would make full use of the gift of sight: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. . . . Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense; glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you. Sometimes all we need to do is open our senses and take in the wonders of the world. Helen Keller, despite her inability to hear or see, can remind us of how privileged we are to be able to directly experience the most precious treasures that are around us and within us—sights and sounds, tastes and textures, smells and sensations.”

— Choose the Life You Want: The Mindful Way to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar

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