If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.
― Leo Tolstoy, Essays, Letters and Miscellanies
The idea of attention or contemplation, of looking carefully at something and holding it before the mind, may be conveyed early on in childhood. ‘Look, listen, isn’t that nice?’ Also, ‘Don’t touch!’ This is moral training as well as preparation for a pleasurable life. It need not depend on words, but can also be learnt from patterns of behaviour which should in any case back up the words. The far reaching idea of respect is included in such teaching. The, as it might seem, sophisticated concept of a work of art may be acquired easily. Children, if they are lucky, are invited to attend to pictures or objects, or listen quietly to music or stories or verses, and readily understand in what spirit they are to treat these apparently dissimilar things. They may also be encouraged to contemplate works of nature, which are unlike works of art, yet also like them in being “beautiful.”
―Iris Murdoch,Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals
She looked out the window; in her eyes was the light that you see only in children arriving at a new place, or in young people still open to new influences, still curious about the world because they have not yet been scarred by life.
―Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence
Early one beautiful summer evening, when everyone else was drinking indoors, Tony and I walked down to the river. We lay on the grass under a tree and chatted. At one point, Tony said, “Look at the pattern of lace the leaves make against the sky.” I looked at the canopy above us, and suddenly saw what he saw. My perspective completely shifted. I realized I didn’t have his “eyes” — though once he pointed it out, it became obvious. It made me think, “My God, I never look enough,” and in the years since, I’ve tried very hard to look —
and look again.
―Julie Andrews, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years
Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
―Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn
I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every state I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.
Black Iris, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1926 image @ Tony Hisgett with CCLicense
When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.
…Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
Strangers are never seen through a window. When our eyes are cast upon another, we are in fact gazing into the depths of a mirror. If you truly desire to understand how you feel about yourself, just take an honest look at how you view the world around you.