I was thinking about the book How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci last night as I watched my 3 month old daughter sleep. In the book Michael Gelb shows you how to experience and observe things more richly. Gelb writes that Leonardo encouraged his pupils to look so closely at things that were familiar like the very ground beneath their feet; the grass, twigs and puddles. If they looked at it long enough they could see the most incredible foreign landscapes.
I applied this to my own child and I saw things I had never observed before. I saw different shapes and colors, faint expressions that would float over her face like a cloud and then be gone. I saw family resemblances to ancestors I hadn’t considered to have any likeness before. I basically saw my child like I had never seen her, and she’s an infant! What do we miss out on in the people around us because we become accustomed to the way they look? What about the ideas that they have? Do we assume they think or feel a certain way when they might have learned and developed just as we are every day?
It’s very easy to get caught up in everyday cares and routines, but to appreciate the people in our lives we must give them an opportunity to reveal their true selves to us. What’s a question you’ve never asked someone you love? Or better yet, what’s a question you can ask them that you think you know the answer to? You may be surprised at what they say.
I love what the Old Master advised about looking carefully, and in the right way, at nature in its most familiar forms. I think we should start with with our family, seeing them in ways we never imagined. We should appreciate them for the things we love about them, but we should also understand that there is so much more to them than we usually observe. Not all of us can spend long days writing in our notebooks, inventing and observing nature, we but we can spend 30 minutes watching our children sleep or play. Why not try it this evening?