‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’
Henry David Thoreau.
I’m one of life’s observers. Details are my thing, right from when I was young and experimenting with art and writing. I had a penchant for precision, clarity and aesthetic beauty – and a deep need to put what I saw into a creative context.
My love of art and detail began from a young age…’Storm’ at age eleven, hands, Dali, cliffs and self-portrait during teens, and drawing my sister and her horse, fairy and a steampunk bumblebee as an adult… © Lisa Shambrook
I see things – all the time. I see everything. I’m an HSP Highly Sensitive Person – (and I’ll write a post on that another day) – but it accounts for my ability to see so much around me. Sometimes it’s a difficult thing: that fluff on the carpet needs to be moved, the white glaring book spine on the shelf cannot be placed with dark spines, and tiny movements in the corner of my eye distract me to the point of tears at times, but most of the time being an observer is a blessing.
Fairy wing anemone, papery blackberry flowers, clouds of soft cow parlsey, delicate nigella, the perfect rose and pink peony © Lisa Shambrook
I see the dew drop in the rose, the tiny green spider weaving a home amongst the stems, patterns in the frost, the sparkle of ice in winter, the heron standing as still as a statue, the dust-coated papery wings of a moth or the light behind petals that turn them into fairy wings…
Wasp nest growth over eight weeks © Lisa Shambrook
I notice the small things. I hear the whisper in the forest and differentiate the clouds in the sky. I watch the swallows dive and the bats flit over our heads. I feel the sunbeams on my skin and see the shimmer of moonlight in my hair. I breathe in jasmine and honeysuckle and notice the hairs on bumblebees’ legs. I recently watched wasps build a nest in my Dad’s garage – the precision and care was amazing.
And it’s not just what you see it’s what you feel too. Feel the mood change as the clouds gather and the wild feeling of passion as storms swell. Enjoy the sensation of a soft fall of snow and wonder at the design of each individual flake. Feel the sprinkle of cold water from the waterfall. Smell the freshness of rain and the fragrance of petrichor, and the waft of delicate perfume. Think of the taste of chocolate melting on your tongue, a kiss beneath the stars, and the warmth of a hug…
Waterfall showers, rainbows, curtains of water, the sprinkle of cool, a cascade © Lisa Shambrook
Imagine, for a moment, life without seeing these things… If you can see them you’re rich, in every way!
Delicate web, frosted leaves, hidden gallows, furry ice, bird print on sand and lichen © Lisa Shambrook
And there’s the blessing of humanity. We see so much harm, but do we notice the youth who holds the door open for his elder? We should notice the small works that are done every day to help, to serve and to love. See the love in a mother’s eyes as she gazes at her child, the protective hand on a shoulder from a father, and the simple gesture of holding hands.
Sometimes life gets busy, sometimes it gets us down, and when it does that’s the time to start looking. That’s the time to search for the little things, to see the small things and drink them in. Stand by the ocean and watch the waves, breathe in the salty air and listen to the pebbles turn beneath the shore. Let the wind whisper in your hair. Wander through the woods and notice the flowers, the tiny wild violets, or simple daisies. Let the sun dance upon your face, close your eyes and feel it. Gaze up at the stars and wonder at the Milky Way as it arcs in a mass of constellations right over your head.
Rainy sunset, shaft of light across clouds, sparkling water, light on cow parsley, sunbeams on horses and wispy clouds © Lisa Shambrook
I take these moments into my soul. I let them charge my emotions and I use my recollections as I write. Description flows and colour pervades the page, and the world comes alive in the stories I tell.
Moss wrapped stone, Jack Frost, puppy’s eye, wire wrap jewels, regal peacock feathers and mystic oaks © Lisa Shambrook
It’s a blessing to be an observer and anyone can be one. Just take a moment to see. Take a moment to look, really look and see what you can see…
Let the beauty around us, the huge grandeur and the tiny blessings of nature and humanity, fill your soul.
Tell me, what observations make your day?
What do you see that makes you happy?