Just Looking

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Last night I noticed a book that had been sitting around that I hadn’t looked at in some time. This is a John Updike book titled, curiously enough, ‘Just Looking’ . I opened to a piece he wrote about art he was exposed to when he was 10 and one that stood out was by Cezanne called ‘Pines and Rocks’. The artist depicts a snippet of nature that would most often go unnoticed for its rather plain appearance. Yet Cezanne depicts the scene with such love and beauty that the everyday is transformed into something to savor. And how often is this true in our lives?

I was staying at our cabin recently in northern MN on a lake and it is a beautiful setting. When I first arrived, and periodically throughout my stay, I didn’t notice the beauty or my surroundings. I was off in my head thinking about other things or just feeling distracted for one reason or another. This is normal life. In the past I may have tried to figure out why I was distracted and what I could do to be more present and appreciative of the setting and glorious nature all around me. Now I know that all that is happening is I’m experiencing my natural variations in states of mind. And like the weather, the stormier days or hours will pass. But there is nothing I have to do to change my state of mind, it will do that on its own.

And the key thing that somehow the Cezanne image reminded me of was that our default setting is well being. That underneath whatever mental agitations or distractions I may feel, underneath all that is love or beauty or feeling good. That always in me and all of us. And as Cezanne points out, in the most mundane aspects of nature and our lives, beauty and love are always pulsing just below the surface.

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