The Art of Seeing

Up at 5 am, I staggered disorientated by darkness down the stairs with one hand on the banister, the other pressed against the wall. Before turning on the light, I gazed out the window for a minute or so to admire the starry sky. “I so love it here,” my voice creaked into the empty space.

I realize not every one is as thrilled about Tuesdays as I am, and while I did not have to head off to a job today, I spent my entire morning and part of the afternoon working on an assignment. My research had me reading “Street Haunting” an essay by Virginia Woolf. In it, I came across a sentence that has inspired “the art” in this Tuesday:

“For the eye has this strange property: it rests only on beauty.”

Around 3 o’clock, I left for the woods in search of my daily bread and as I ambled down the gravel hill, over the creek and up the other side to meet the trailhead, I pondered that sentence. I thought about the ways in which we view the world in front of us. Too often, my eyes are open but my mind is sleeping or my mind is judging. I want to see the world with eyes wide open, to take in every bizarre and glorious and sad and beautiful moment.

Typically, my walk-run takes around 40 minutes. At the half way mark, there are side-by-side corduroy bridges spanning a creek: one in each direction. I always take the one heading north first and to head home, I take the one heading south. It creates a counter-clock wise loop in my walk, which–I like to think–adds a little magic to my day. Lately, I’ve been taking time to sit by the creek. Before, I would keep moving to avoid seeing anyone. Then I discovered I almost never see anyone.

Today, I chose the narrower of the two bridges as it’s covered with a metal traction tread, making it the drier option. Taking a seat, I dropped my legs over the edge and gazed down, between my dangling feet, at the water rushing over the rocks. Since moving to the cabin, it seems each time I stop to look at rocks, I find my ‘self’ searching for one in the shape of a heart.

creek shoes

I’m not going to spend the time counting, but there are a remarkable number of heart-shaped rocks in this cabin. I sublet the cabin from a striking young woman and it is her heart-rock collection. One rock in the cabin, however, belongs to me.

I’ve been carrying it around for about 12 years. It came to me like this: I’d passed on an invitation to see the ocean in favour of a visit with an old friend. This decision left my then boyfriend to spend a rather romantic day alone with a newly-wed couple. When I arrived that evening to our room–we were staying with his friends, the newlyweds–this heart-rock was on my pillow. To this day, I still feel a tinge of guilt each time I look at it.

My lower lip became a little heavier as I searched for that ideal shape, “maybe she’s got them all.”

Shaking my head, I smiled at my nonsense. Then, I spotted a shiny stone with orange and grey striations; its wetness perhaps playing tricks on me. I reached for it. “Was it beautiful?” I decided it was, in its own way. I was drawn to its stripes. Not a second later, I found its match. Clutching the two rocks, I had a little bounce in my step as I crossed the creek, ducked under a branch, and stepped down onto the sandy shore to start looking for more beautiful rocks, in any shape. Then, there it was–a heart-rock. I snatched it up. However, on closer look I saw that is wasn’t really a heart at all, not at first. As I turned it over in my palm, looking at it from all its facets, I began to see that there was indeed a heart hidden in that rock. Holding on to it, eyes wide, I further scanned the creek’s edge and found yet another heart-rock, which I added to my collection.

I hurried back to toward the cabin just as the cool dampness of evening was entering the forest. Home, I unloaded my treasures and to my delight discovered that all four rocks actually had their own unique heart shape.


Finding “The Art of Tuesday” each Tuesday reminds me to open my eyes wide, so as not to miss the beauty.

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