From the Outside Looking In

A couple days ago, my family recommended I visit Sears to take advantage of a great sale on winter coats. I first thought, I have a coat. My coat of several years is a black leather Columbia jacket that has served me well and continues to keep me warm. So why would I need a new one?

But a closer look reveals a lot of wear and tear. Actually, let me correct that statement. It should read wear and tears. I find I’m not very easy on the things I use, and I use them well and extensively until they don’t do their job any longer. It’s only then that I go looking for a replacement. Ultimately, I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. On one hand, it means I make good use of the things I buy, and I seldom replace them for any reason other than having worn them out completely. On the other hand, it also means I don’t generally spend much time keeping them up. I simply use them until they can’t be used anymore. At this point in time, I recognize it. In large part thanks to other people pointing to clothes I wear that they would have probably replaced already. I’m able to see a little more of me through their eyes, and I’m thankful for those eyes. It’s nice to have someone who can reflect the truth of my blind spots. And that is the reason for this post today.

We may not always like what others have to say to or about us, but it never hurts to take a closer look through their eyes. For me, this particular case helped me see some of my values a little more clearly. So long as something is working well, I don’t think much of its appearance or well being. I have plenty of other things to occupy my attention. So long as it does its job, that’s all I care about. When it ceases doing its job, then I find some way to limp it along until I can replace it. Seeing is the first step. I think understanding what you see is the next step. Finally, I believe that understanding allows us to assess and, if necessary, make changes.

I don’t know where this exposure to self is going to ultimately take me. It’s part of the answer to why I don’t take better care of material possessions. (A question I’ve been asking myself for years with little success!) It’s also confirmation that I don’t consider maintaining a certain image to be as important to me as, say, thinking about things like this. I’d rather have time free to think than spend an extra hour each morning preening. Both of these characteristics can be double edged swords. For the moment, it’s not something bothersome enough that I’ve made a conscious decision to change, but if that day is coming it will be along this path of revelation.

All of this to say, give ear to those around you and you might find greater clarity of self in their eyes. It’s well worth the effort, and I believe it helps refine and hone us into better humans. So, what are you seeing through the eyes of others?

And finally, the hard question that may follow, what are we going to do with it?



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