Eyes are funny. We use them to see. We use them to differentiate between shapes and colors. We use them to read and to watch screens. But when it comes to passing judgement, sympathizing, empathizing and growing awareness, they are just one piece of the puzzle.
Even though our eyes are our windows to the world, the shades and blinds on our windows are controlled by our experiences. They say it can take an infant weeks to adjust to seeing clearly, but I say that it takes even longer - perhaps even a lifetime.
My husband and I were robbed this past Saturday. We moved into our new apartment with eyes that lit up when we saw the quaint little brownstone on the corner - they got excited by how many windows there were - and they were overwhelmed with joy at the thought of easy access to a rooftop for shabbat meals, sun bathing and singing fests.
But my eyes have changed. Now, they not only notice which apartments are pretty but they also notice the ones that are safest from burglars: who has bars, who has shades, who has curtains. Now they not only see people, but they feel people: who is smiling, who is pacing, who looks hungry, who looks happy...
My eyes impacted my experience and my experience has impacted my eyes.
We are all born into this world with a veil of naiveté, one that I think is important so as not to have pre-conceived judgements or thoughts about what this world is like. We are nurtured in a perfect womb and when we are birthed out into this world, we experience the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. Every day - every moment impacts how we see.
From my first trip abroad to the death of my mother - from my first kiss to this robbery, I feel mixed feelings about having eyes that are constantly changing. The naiveté was so sweet, so simple so bright. It’s hard to let go of that - and yet the only way to really GROW is by allowing that innocence to evolve into awareness: For those who are naive are not aware, and those who are aware are not naive.
Awareness leads to change and change can lead to a brighter world not just for one but for two for three and for many.
At times, we may experience terrible things that make us see the world in a darker more constricted way- and yet, I believe that as much as our experiences impact our perception of the world, our will to find joy and to see light have an even more powerful impact on how we experience what we experience and how we see what we see.
Can we fool our eyes? No. Can we mold our minds? Yes.
And so I bless us all with the ability to allow our awareness of the world to grow - taking it all in - the complexity - the pain - the beauty - the wonder - and to remember always that no matter what we see, there is something that we are not seeing. And may this knowledge provide us with a sense of humility in what we see, compassion for what others see and curiosity for what it is we can’t see.