But initially, the story of looking for lost things. My family came to my house for Christmas lunch. My sister moved some things that were on the table to a bench. Among those things were my house and car keys. After everyone had left I looked for my keys but couldn't find them. I had cleaned up the kitchen and moved things back to the table, including a bowl of fruit. My sister had put my keys in the bowl. I did not notice them when I moved the bowl back to the table. I was doing what we do when we read - scanning - so all I saw was fruit. Later, when looking for my keys, I relooked at the bowl of fruit, in relation with my thinking about the events of the day, and only then did I see my keys. I was truly looking at the bowl, probably for the first time. Artists who paint still lifes must also do this - really 'see' things.
John Berger (p 9) says:
We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.
Nan Shepherd (pp 10-11) tells us how to see in nature:
This changing of focus in the eye, moving the eye itself when looking at things that do not move, deepen one's sense of outer reality. Then static things may be caught in the very act of becoming. By so simple a matter, too, as altering the position of one's head, a different kind of world may be made to appear.... Details are no longer part of a grouping in a picture of which I am the focal point, the focal point is everywhere. Nothing has reference to me, the looker. This is how the earth must see itself.Her text in The living mountain considers being - her own being and the mountain's/nature's, the relationship between watcher and watched, and the senses being put to full use.
For unnumbered years it [water] has welled from the rock, and flowed away. It does nothing, absolutely nothing, but be itself. (p 23)
...the colour seemed to live its own life, to have body and resilience, as though we were not looking at it, but were inside its substance. (p 30)
It astonished me that my memory was so much in the eye and so little in the feet... (p 46)
Though I did not know it then, I was leaning my way in, through my own fingers, to the secret of growth. (p 58)
Whether you give it conscious thought or not, you are touching life, and something within you knows it. A sense of profound contentment floods me as I stoop to dip the pail. But I am aware all the same that by so living I am slowing down the tempo of life; if I had to do these things every day and all the time I should be shutting the door on other activities and interests... (p 82)
...I awake with an empty mind. Consciousness of where I am comes back quite soon, but for one startled moment I have looked at a familiar place as though I had never seen it before. (p 91)
...I am continually coming to the surface of awareness and sinking back again, just seeing, not bedevilled with thought, but living in the clear simplicity of the senses. (p 93)
To bend the ear to silence is to discover how seldom it is there... But now and then comes an hour when the silence is all but absolute, and listening to it one slips out of time. (p 96)
Such illusions, depending on how the eye is placed and used, drive home the truth that our habitual vision of things is not necessarily right: it is only one of an infinite number, and to glimpse an unfamiliar one, even for a moment, unmakes us, but steadies us again. (p 101)And in the last chapter, titled 'Being', here it is:
How then may be lived a life of the senses so pure, so untouched by any mode of apprehension but their own, that the body may be said to think. Each sense heightened to its most exquisite awareness is in its total experience. This is the innocence we have lost, living in one sense at a time to live all the way through. (p 105)
...the long rhythm of motion sustained until motion is felt, not merely known by the brain, as the 'still centre' of being. (p 106)
The thing to be known grows with the knowing. (p 108)
For an hour I am beyond desire. It is not ecstasy, that leap out of the self that makes man like a god. I am not out of myself, but in myself. I am. (p 108)
There is nothing more to be said, but a lot to be experienced. Nan Shepherd's text relates to Buddhism as well as deep ecology - the practices of meditation and mindful walking, mindfulness in general, are all expressed in her book. What do we really see?