What do you see?

It’s not right at all—in fact, it’s wrong,
Like a misplayed note in a perfect song.
It’s a blighted stain that shouldn’t be,
Like spilling crude in the open sea.

Its edges are rough, jarring and jagged,
Like a scruffy beggar, poor and ragged.
It’s different, awkward, out of place,
Like thorny thistles in a flower vase.

It’s not centered or square; it just looks dumb,
Like a crooked picture that’s not quite plumb.
It’s probably infectious, a sickly disease,
Like an ill companion with a coughing wheeze.

So, what is this dissident, disastrous thing
That crows attention like a broken wing?
What is this cancer that is so complete?
A small ink smudge on a big, bright sheet.

As you walk through life what you choose to see
Determines your happiness and what you’ll be.
True, there is wrong, but there is also right;
Don’t dwell on the dark, live in the Light.

Picture this:  You are taking a difficult college class and the professor is kind of a wild card.  He knows his stuff, but he is very specific and demanding.  To top it off, you are having a really hard time understanding the course material.  You know you have a midterm test in a week, and you are dreading it all ready.  As you walk to class you silently curse the college gods that this class is required. 

Then, just when you think things can’t get worse, they do.  The professor starts class by announcing that he is moving the midterm up—to today.  What?!  You are not ready!  But already he is passing out the tests.  He places the exam, face down, on your desk.  After he has them all passed out, he tells the class there is only one question on this test, you are to describe what you see. 

You turn the paper over and your already-over-worked anxiety explodes—there is nothing there!  But then you see it—a small black mark off to the edge of the paper.  Is this what you are to be describing?  With no more time for questioning, you begin to write.  You describe everything there is about the mark.  You are running out of things to say when the professor tells everyone to stop writing.  He gathers the exams up and begins to read them to the class.  Everyone has written about the small black mark they saw on their papers.  Then the teacher asks, “Did nobody see the big white paper?”


I heard this story recently.  It is an interesting illustration on perspective.  Sometimes we get so caught up in what we think we see that we become blinded to everything else.  It reminded me of the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”  Sometimes we focus so much on the details that we fail to see the bigger picture.  The opposite is also true.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the bigger picture that we forget to see the value and importance of minute details.  Either way, it may be well for each of us to stop periodically and look at things from a different angle.  We may discover there is more to see and learn and do and know and love.

We may suddenly see the big, bright, glorious paper.

Written: February 16, 2017

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