“Awakened Eye Seeing Freshly”

Fresh

by Naomi Shihab Nye

To move
cleanly.
Needing to be
nowhere else.
Wanting nothing
from any store.
To lift something
you already had
and set it down in
a new place.
Awakened eye
seeing freshly.
What does that do to
the old blood moving through
its channels?

From You and Yours. BOA Editions, 2005.
Reprinted with Permission.

Most of us know the “fresh” feeling Naomi Shihab Nye describes in this short but wise poem. It is a sensation of pure joy that arrives, as such feelings often do, once we’ve accepted and made peace with exactly where we are, who we are, and what we have right now. These incisive lines remind us what happens when we resist our particular present moment, telling ourselves we might somehow make it better or more exciting by adding something (or someone) extra. But what would it feel like “to move/cleanly” through a lonely, confused evening, “wanting nothing/from any store”? How often do we shop online or drive to the market, filling our carts with things we don’t really need in order to fill some part of ourselves that we think is lacking, in order to satisfy some restlessness we can’t explain? I have made (and still sometimes make) countless trips to the store for bags of potato chips, boxes of cookies, and bottles of wine I didn’t truly want but bought anyway simply because there was some deeper yearning for connection that I was not yet ready to admit. Sometimes, the best way to interrupt our habitual and often automatic behaviors is to see what’s in front of us in a completely new way. This is how the “awakened eye” works to change our lives and minds. We might rearrange the furniture, pull out an old book, take a walk in a park, or go to a museum we’ve never explored before. We may not always realize it, but our minds crave the slight challenge and thrill of new sights and sensations to send “the old blood rushing through/its channels.” But we don’t need to go to extreme measures to make this happen. As usual, the answer is simpler, and by giving our grateful attention fully to the smallest aspects of our lives, we can bring about profound shifts in our overall perception. Our bodies seem to need this grounding effect to remind us we are whole, and need nothing more to justify our presence on the earth.

—James Crews

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