Today morning I got up early, so that I can capture sun rise from a hill nearby, with my new camera lens. The sunrise was at 5:58 am local time.  I got up at 5:15, and rushed with my camera to the hill. But alas, by the time I reached there, it was late. Sun has risen and its rays has filled the atmosphere. I was slightly disappointed. I started walking on the hill. Being harsh summer (in a tropical country), the trees didn’t bear any leaves, only their skeletons were visible. Through these trees, I captured Sun.( See the photo above) I took few snaps as I was walking by. But somehow, I felt unhappy. I was not getting the snap I was looking for. Sun was bright and shining fiercely in the sky. The color of the sky was bright white. I remembered my trip to this same hill, last year in winter. I was able to capture, beautiful Sun rise with morning colors of sky. This was completely absent today. What has changed? Was I too late to reach the hill? I realized that, this is summer and the sky was clear, without any traces of clouds. That was winter and obviously the air was far cooler then, which might have given rise to various colors. I was disappointed at the snaps I have taken.

Why So? I had expectations about the sunrise, the colors in the sky and the landscape. I was probably trying to get that wow feeling after taking the snap. Are expectations bad? Why was I having expectations? Did I want to exhibit the snaps and get praise for that from my friends/ people around me. Many questions surfaced in my mind.

Having expectations, is good or bad, is a highly debatable issue. But one thing was sure that expectations were driving me to look at the nature around me in a particular way. I had lost the freshness of the eyes. To see beauty, you require fresh eyes. That was missing and was making me sad in the marvelous nature.

I decided to abandon my search for a breath-taking view and just take stroll in the peaceful nature. The birds were chirping, there was an indescribable silence in the atmosphere. That really soothed me. I strolled and captured some snaps without bothering whether they are good or not. Now when I was focusing from the view finder, I was lost to the outside world and completely engrossed in the process of taking picture. Ah! That was heavenly.

“Human beings react not to reality, but to ideas in their heads.” Father Anthony DeMello in the Heart of the Enlightened.

How true? I realized the meaning of the sentence above.  It was clear to me that I was looking at the nature, especially Sunrise, from a particular point of view, of taking a photograph. Do you also face this? Do you react to reality from the ideas that are in your head- may be consciously or unconsciously? Be it people, relationships, nature, – whatever you see/ face, do you react to it from the preconceived notions? Are those conditioned responses? Then how to see with fresh eyes?

 We have notions of beauty. These vary from person to person, nation to nation and culture to culture. We get attracted to beautiful things and try to avoid ugly things. Is it not? But in nature nothing is beautiful and nothing is ugly. Everything in nature makes it whole. But we compartmentalize things into beautiful and ugly. We do not see facts. We interpret them as per our conditioning. I was looking at the barren trees and finding them not beautiful.( Snap taken is at the top.)

They were looking grey and I did not find them  enchanting. Was this not a conditioned reaction? What is the antidote for all this?. What can we do to have fresh eyes? How can we see things as they are?

What immediately comes to my mind is a mindfulness practice. This one is from “How to train a wild elephant and other adventures in mindfulness” by Jan Chozen Bays. The exercise suggested is as follows

As often as you can, shift your awareness from objects to the space around the objects. For example, when you look in the mirror, notice the space around the image of your head. In a room, notice the empty space rather than the furniture, people, or other visual objects.

Author says” this task can be a potent tool of awareness if people consistently practice with it.”

What other hacks are there to become more mindful or to see with fresh eyes – that you practice? Do let me know.

As I was leaving the hill, I saw this abandoned structure on the hill with colorful graffiti on it. I liked the splash of colors and snapped a picture. I felt happy and enthusiastic. My disappointment vanished and I left the hill in a good mood.