Looking and thinking

I have a professional artist friend who had one work hanging on the wall in his home for a whole year before he decided it was finished and ready for public consumption. This same artist would say that, in his studio, he spends more time looking than he does painting.

Both those things are, for me, a salutary reminder. My tendency is to rush to get things finished because I like the completed item.  At this time, however, with few deadlines, it is eminently possible to slow down and really contemplate where a piece is at, what it still needs and what would give it that ‘final 2%’ to lift it to its best possible being.

I think it extends beyond art. I think our default position in life is to hurry. The concept of ‘smelling the roses’ is not our natural state. Indeed, it’s a concept of which we need reminding via affirmations, inspirational quotes and the like. We have apps to help us remain calm, we have posters advocating a peaceful existence, some have Netflix to give them an excuse to stop.

What would our world be like if we spent more time looking than doing? More time thinking than acting? I find it hard to imagine. There would be a slower pace, I suppose. More consideration would be given to undertakings and perhaps there would be fewer mistakes made.

In some ways, the current pandemic has caused just such a slow-down as both the capacity for our output and the availability of input has been compromised. COVID-19 has interrupted the commonplace bustle of life with a more relaxed rhythm, enforced and not desirable, certainly, but our daily reality nonetheless. Target has sold out of jigsaw puzzles, my daughter has taken up cross stitch, online browsing and, inevitably, shopping has taken over from belting around the shops. People are making games in their houses, dressing up to put their bins out, taking their children for walks. Even those working from home, while the intensity of business may be heightened without the usual interruptions from colleagues and occasional informal chat, the commute is non-existent, the necessity to present in quite the same ‘work mode’ is reduced and the daily dislocation from one’s residence removed.

Many things are flourishing. Care for others, contact with friends and family and humorous offerings in all sorts of places now fill and characterise my days. The environment is breathing the fresh air of reduced traffic and industry. The speed of passing time is different and I wasn’t even particularly busy before. I can only imagine how some people are having to adjust. That won’t be easy for many, especially those forced out of work, and their memories of the pandemic may not be as generous as those of others. Frustration, boredom, desperation, fear and risk-taking are almost certainly heightened in some quarters. Such is our societal unaccustomed-ness to a slower and restricted pace.

This is our chance to smell the roses. This is our chance to take a moment to look and evaluate. This is a time to think about what we need, what will make our lives better when this is all over. I suppose most things will ramp up to their previous rate – so many things depend on that now – but there may be some imprint left, some leftover sense of quiet that we keep for a little bit longer.

Until later


4 thoughts on “Looking and thinking

  1. A New Life

    The imprint,

    I think, did a stint,

    deeply buried and marred,

    almost barred

    from individual and collective consciousness:

    and the smallest of things

    turns out, brings,

    it back to impress,

    as we address

    the redress


    for what’s eternally for new life, seeded.

    From the book of “look” …

    In the rush

    to coming into being and the gush,

    born without instructions and rules in the book of life,

    out we tumbled and jostled forwards so eager for motion and strife,

    we’d forgotten the first rule of reading the book:


    do you remember when

    back then

    us as babes, and then our kids

    filled their days with tries and bids

    of “look!”

    and that was all it took?

    to connect and imbibe

    the essence of alive?

    time is same,

    we just self maim

    when we fail to find our happy pace

    and the slow grace

    of seeing

    and being;

    somewhere in the mindfulness and gratitude,

    and endless be-well attitudes,

    we could just pause,

    for the cause,

    and give the look

    that it took,

    back then


    we knew who

    we were becoming,

    without the summing

    up of the cost & others,

    oblivious to their druthers –

    we knew, because we didn’t not know,

    we knew, because we looked and saw, as we were on the go,

    we knew, because we were paused by sensory inputs both which delighted

    and those which chilled, and scared and frighted,

    or left us feeling void,

    and of responsiveness devoid;

    we knew, because we felt with our hearts

    and minds on our sleeves,

    and no-one had said “no” and “not” so much,

    or I don’t have time, I’m busy, and brushed our looking off and such,

    we looked with horror through to glee,

    from homicidal through embracing, to entertaining, and back to being free

    to look again,

    and again,

    so that now, as then,

    we still can conjure those “looking” ways and times, as we dig deep

    and pull the needed power from its sleep

    which, during our growing-up-to-adult-work-centric-life, were sent to hibernation …

    because an eternal and internal override won out for conservation,

    and overtook


    but now

    the cash cow

    is the how,

    of the art

    of the heart

    and the book

    of look.



  2. Thank-YOU!

    I’d been trying to collect these thoughts about “observing”: then you wrote your brilliant piece and a bit of “it” started coming to me. WOW, why do I tend to make things so much more complicated than they are? What’s with the overthink I do? The follow up will be perhaps about thinking, without the weight of drowning and sinking? In the meantime, I’m so bouyed up by your reminder to simply look!

    Always you inspire!


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