I stopped by a large, unoccupied pond yesterday. My intentions were to watch the sun rise and burn the hoar frost from the trees. As my eyes grew accustomed to "not seeing", my hands reached to roll down my window and turn off the ignition. There is an old saying that suggests, "when you stop looking, then you will see". My Mom's grandfather taught her that and, quite honestly, it has been a part of my life philosophy. Well, when I stopped looking, I saw four rather large families of ducks, I heard the 'croaking' call of a raven and listened as geese called to one another. The ducks muttering to each other as they splashed in the water made for an equally beautiful moment as the light fog began to lift. And, as the sun rose higher in the sky, I was able to see the shadows behind round bales of hay reveal themselves to be four of the most beautiful white-tail does I've seen in a long while. They stood looking at me and I was equally as mesmerized gazing at them. When I stopped looking, I could truly see. This morning I returned to the same spot. The ducks were still at the pond but everything else was different. Life is like that, you have to capture the moment while you can or it could be lost forever.
Recently I've learned more of the story of two people who have been in my life for quite a while. We aren't related aside from being a part of the human race and yet we feel like family. One is a retired man who made his living in the oil industry overseas. He's told me of how hot the temperatures were when he worked in Iraq and he misses the heat of the desert. He also told me how he left Canada at a very early age so that he was able to make a living. And now, in his eighties, he's learning to do something he didn't have the opportunity to do back then... he's learning to read.
The other person I've gotten to know much better is an Aboriginal knowledge keeper, an active elder who contributes to our community and is wise beyond anyone else I know. Yet, by standards of today's society she is illiterate, and is now learning how to read and write. Both of these wonderfully inspiring people could have decided to spend their sunset years socializing with friends, watching television and working on the crafts that keep them busy. Instead they have chosen to open up a whole new world to themselves by learning to read. They do so at one of the most challenging times in life, as our world transitions from paper to online information provided by search engines found on the World Wide Web.
I recently tried reading a book online. It took me three weeks to get to the end of the five hundred pages and a large part of my motivation to complete the novel was waiting for two and half hours in the office of a medical specialist. A large portion of my inability to "get into" the book was not having the actual novel in my hand. I missed the smell, the weight and the page turning that can only be achieved by holding an actual book in my hands. So I truly admire my friends for following through on learning to read as their education will also have them exploring computers and the web as well. And like me as I sat next to an "empty" pond a couple of days ago, I think my friends will find they will see so much more to life when they stop looking and just experience by capturing the moment, they can stop and open the windows, turn off the engine and live in the moment to see all that they were missing.
With that being said, I've become more aware of the information people miss when they aren't able to accurately interpret the information posted for everyone to take notice of. As an example, have you noticed the free flu shot flyers posted around the city at pharmacies and on community bulletin boards. Have you considered how you would interpret these sheets of paper if you couldn't read? Some have graphic art to better help people understand the information but it can still appear quite intimidating. Especially if a person fears needles! When someone is unable to read or write, it is a hidden disability that may never reveal itself to others. So I really applaud those who have set up education program to teach people, free of charge. And for those of you who are learning and challenging yourselves to grow, congratulations! You won't regret learning to see after you stop looking.
Have a great week, everyone!