Do you remember the moments you learned something so new, your eyes involuntarily widened? Sometimes I think I live for these moments. Actually, a lot of these moments have to do with our ways of seeing – so yes, your eyes are voluntarily involved.

Like in painting class in University, when we had to take apart the colors we literally saw in our surroundings and identify and replicate them and you discover the green of the grass on a late March day was not green. It was grayish blueish brown. And so you discover that your brain tells your eyes to see what it wants to/been trained to – not what is there.

In my art period on Thursday, as I was showing the students how to train their eyes to see negative spaces in an image or a scene, I saw eyes widening with new learning. There is another way of looking at things they discovered. The picture of a cat did not only hold the cat but the space around it was a shape as well.

Those moments can feel refreshing or quieting. To know the palette you have envisioned needs to be mixed anew is interesting. To know how to break apart the spaces in a picture and see the “unimportant” shapes was stimulating. But to know, with a sudden realization, that a situation is not what you “see” is strangely stilling.

In the Qur’an, we are told over and over to look about us and see. See the ruins of past civilizations, the evidence of His presence, the splendors of nature, the plotting of humans, the miracles of faith…so much to see, be stimulated, be still and with widening eyes, accept a new awareness…

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This is a mountain…or is it a zebra? And do you see the blue negative space? Or is it the brown and white negative space? And are you sure that it’s WHITE, that snow? If you asked what snow, your eyes are probably wide right now. 

…and in other news, I had a wonderful day today. I spent most of it with someone I had baby-sat frequently as a teenager – fully grown now. We went to a get-together to support a mutual friend who followed her passion and went from engineer to jewelery designer. Check her stuff out at Etsy (Pepperberry Jewelry).

About my former baby-sat friend – she’s a volunteering dynamo alhamdulillah (the causes she works with are many, diverse and mainstream) with a grounded sense of her purpose in life. And today she picked up a new cause from hanging around with my sister and I – more information to come on that insha’Allah. May Allah grant her all the best in this world and the next.

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