I Counted Twelve Main Branches on the Maple Tree in My Front Yard

I’ve lived in my house for over thirty years, yet can’t tell you how many stairs there are to the second floor

Jim Farina

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great fictitious detective, Sherlock Holmes, once chided his friend and colleague, Doctor Watson, “You see, but you do not observe.”

Artist Georgia O’Keeffe is known for her breathtaking depictions of flowers. She painted them in a unique way because she looked at them uniquely. Okeeffe once said, “Nobody sees a flower, really.” To see takes time.

When we pause and see what’s around us, it broadens our awareness and enriches our lives, says inspirational speaker and podcaster Jay Shetty. “Observation can help us see the world around us through a beautiful new lens.”

Today, when we see something of particular interest or beauty, many of us reach for our smartphones, capture an image, and then move on. We might return to it later and post it on Instagram or Facebook.

What did people do before smartphones or cameras? Some would pull out a sketchpad and draw. People would take entire sketching trips. Drawing or painting doesn’t only preserve a scene for the future. It enables us to see the object differently.

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