Start with Seeing

“Seeing is different from looking:  in seeing we deliberately select from the environment.”  Donald Graves, Bring Life Into Learning

“BWH?  What does that stand for?”

The kind REI employee asked me, pointing to my hat. Billy was off trying on coats.

“Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  Boston.”

“My Dad had a few valves replaced there 7 years ago.  They are amazing there!  He has since passed on, but they gave him new life back then!”

“Yes, yes.  I’ve heard about the great work they do there.”

Billy returned, we thanked the kind man and we went our separate ways.

When we got back home, the gift of 71 degrees in January called me outside to read.  I grabbed Beartown, my journal, my pen and plopped myself in my cozy corner.  Pausing at the end of a chapter, I looked up and saw the  garden cart filled with wood.  The meandering lines of the blue tarp covering the wood invited me to see.  I grabbed my journal and followed the lines.  I sketched.  I thought.  I remembered.  I found myself connecting to a memory that was floating aimlessly in my mind.  I grabbed it.

The original cart was a wedding gift 22 years ago.  Years of use and a little outdoor abuse led to rotted wood and warped metal, yet it maintained it’s purpose.  About two years ago, my Mom and Dad were down for a visit.  Billy, knowing my Dad always liked to keep his hands and mind busy, pulled out the cart and together, they replaced the sides and bottom.  They measured, they cut.  My Mom and I watched.  We supervised.  They pushed and pulled and gave that cart new life.

The power of not only seeing, but sketching is a process that allows me to connect with ideas and memories.  I am always encouraged to continue to grow this piece of my process and share it with others because, as Donald Graves wrote, “Seeing is as essential to the artist and scientist as it is to the writer.”





5 thoughts on “Start with Seeing”

  1. The image aimlessly floating in my mind.

    This line connects to the quote, you so perfectly chose to lead this piece.

    We get to choose when seeing- I also like the idea of this. Which… connects to the quote you shared during our soft start last week. I’ve been thinking a lot about that one and now you have me thinking even more.

    I loved all the connections here, the wandering through space and time and how you landed on the cart- how you chose to see the cart.


  2. Here’s what happens:
    we slow the pace
    of the world to a crawl,
    a frame from which
    to see, and not just look,
    and then we take our time
    to find our pen
    to write it down
    in the book again,
    this time with creativity

    — Kevin, thanks for inspiration for a poem … the rhyming here has a strange twist, heard mostly when read aloud (I think)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is so much going on in this post – the reminder to see, not just look, the connection between you and the man at REI, the connection between giving your dad a new life and giving the cart a new life, your reading and seeing, and sketching, and writing. This post is just packed with the power of what writing can do.


  4. I love the way your writing connects the past and present through seeing – it reminds me of John Berger’s book, Ways of Seeing.

    Beartown is a book that I’ve offered my students, the hockey players, with the aim to develop those reluctant readers in high school. But you saw differently and created a new vision for your readers.


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