Other People’s Eyes

There are days when I feel disappointed with the direction my life has taken. When I feel I didn’t work hard enough, push hard enough, BE hard enough to attain success.

Those are the days when I gauge success according to material acquisitions, to things, to stuff. To the external.

That is how most people judge us, isn’t it? They look at the stuff we have and put us into a particular box. I know that sometimes I am put into the box at the end of the pile, but that is OK. I have made my peace with that.

Then there are the days when I gauge success according to the internal. When success or failure hinges on one question : Are you happy with you who are?

What a gift it is to be able to answer that question with a YES.

It may not be the most resounding YES in the world every time the question is asked. There will be times when your vision of yourself will drop in and out of focus, when your attitude will waver, when you will question your own worth; but if you can answer YES more often than not, to me, that is a life with meaning. To me that is a life well-lived.

There are days when ordinary people who walk the earth bring us messages from the Gods.

My neighbour, a driven, immaculately turned-out, corporate-trained, appearances-are-everything woman caught me taking a photo of this tree in the street round the corner from my house the other day. She thought I was taking it to complain to the Council about how much debris it dropped on the cars that parked beneath it. In truth I was enchanted by the autumn colours, rich and mellow at the same time. The colour of the hair of beautiful Celtic women and warm winter blankets.

She did a double take when I told her I was doing my best to capture the colour of the leaves.

Why? she asked.

Because they are beautiful, I said. Because their colours are a poem.

Later that day I found a copy of the poetry of Keats in my mailbox with a note marking Ode To Autumn.

Thank you, it read. For reminding me there is more to life than work and responsibility. Thank you for showing me the colours.

I was touched by that. My neighbour is the type of person I would normally avoid. Yet she reminded me that there is more to life than the box we are placed in.

She reminded me that through other people’s eyes we can often really see.

26 thoughts on “Other People’s Eyes

  1. Excellent post Selma. Timely and very appropriate. If indeed… ” There are days when ordinary people who walk the earth bring us messages from the Gods”…then it is my belief that is for a reason. I think we as a species have come to a point where must redefine value. Beauty is not only valuable in so many ways, but is vital to our existence.
    What is the true value of success ? How can bigger/smaller, faster, shiny new shit…aka material acquisitions benefit our evolution as a species ?

    Often , for me anyway, some yeses are stronger than others…Sure there is remorse for past misdeeds. But, all in all ,I am happy. My life has meaning , focus and purpose for me, if no one else. Writing has been a major part. I don’t have to hold things in. I can share , and also be exposed to new thoughts and ideas.

    So if in fact particles that collide continue to influence each other indefinitely, who knows how many people will look at the trees in a new way simply because you took the time , without judging , to explain and share your awareness of what value is to you with just one person .
    I would call this chance meeting a success.

    “Then there are the days when I gauge success according to the internal. When success or failure hinges on one question : Are you happy with you who are? ”

    I hope you are happy with who you are today Selma. Because , you may have affected countless of individuals by showing just one …the colours of a poem.


  2. a great post. for the last 7 years we have been pretty humble people. i used to work for a large corporation and make over 6 figures. we lived high n the hog. i paid for it with time away from family. but then i walked away from it. we still lived pretty comfortable, but did not want for much. i have been part time for the last 18 months since losing my job and have struggled more with this during that time…mainly missing simple things like having internet at the house….there is more to life than working and acquiring….


  3. I love this post, and I’m so thrilled you touched her in this way, because you touch a lot of us regularly. I sometimes look at my friends’ and family’s homes and things and compare them to my much simpler existence. But I have taken leaps and bounds in terms of who I am and I feel as if I’ll never stop growing, and never stop looking at this world with wonder. Thanks for this reminder. x


  4. Oh that is just fantastic! I’m so happy for her. You bring such joy and value to so many people Selma; many of the people you have crossed paths with both in real life and on the Internet. I think that is a great success.


  5. Oh Selma, what a lovely post. You capture such simple small thoughts and make them profound. I love that.

    Yes, there is so much more to life. I am glad I realised that too.


  6. “There are days when ordinary people who walk the earth bring us messages from the Gods.”

    You are indeed one of those people. Thank you, Selma.


  7. A beautifully couched reminder that (like my wise brother Bill says) ‘You never know what they’re thinking’. She may be driven to keep up appearances but would rather be ‘happy with her life’. Probably envies you!


  8. I like your story Selma because it shows just how the driven can sometimes be reached with something as simple as sharing the beauty of a moment.


  9. Great post Selma. Just reminds us not to judge others – even the well dressed, they to shall have their place on the earth – haha.Wish I had a neighbour who would drop me some poetry in the letterbox (except I don’t have a letterbox – too small a village for mail delivery!) – and a neighbour like you to remind me of all the colours around us πŸ™‚ lucky we have the internet.


  10. Just one question Sel…

    When success or failure hinges on one question : Are you happy with you who are?

    The way you’ve written the question makes me wonder if it shouldn’t read: Are you happy with thou that art? πŸ™‚

    My favourite autumnal location is Bright, Victoria… love it.



  11. Hi RACHEL:
    They do have a significant power. Don’t know what I’d do without them πŸ˜€

    What an incredible comment. I could cry after reading it because it is so beautiful and it is an extension of what I wanted to say in this post. Thank you. I can’t tell you how much what you have said means !!

    Hi BRIAN:
    I understand your struggles. I am there myself. It has been useful in allowing me to reassess what I really want from life. For the longest time I was pulled along a path I didn’t really want to be on because I thought it was the way to a good life. Now I know that was not the right path for me. I am sorry to hear you lost your job but know you will be OK. You are very talented.

    I am with you 100% on the growing in leaps and bounds. I wonder if I would be in the same place with regard to self development if I hadn’t gone through the turmoil I have. I suspect not. Maybe the bad times did more for me than I thought. Thank you for your kind words!

    Hi DAOINE:
    Awww. You make me sound much nicer than I am. I am so grateful to you for saying that because it is important to reach out to others in this crazy life. Allows us to hold on to our humanity πŸ˜€

    Hi RELUCS:
    I am glad you realised it too. It makes life much more enjoyable, doesn’t it?

    And oddly enough, she touched me too. I would never have believed she could!

    Hi WENDY:
    That means a lot to me. I am so glad I could help. YAY.

    Hi LAURI:
    You’re making me blush. 😳 Thank you.

    It’s just so true. My grandmother used to say it was wrong to form an opinion of someone until you had walked in their shoes. She was so right. I try to remember that where I can.

    Hi IAIN:
    It’s true. I didn’t think it was possible. Sometimes people really surprise me!

    No letterbox? That must mean you avoid all that horrible junk mail. It is nice to be reminded of the colours in the world, whatever the source. I, too, am very grateful for the internet.

    Hi BEAR:
    Great to hear from ya, mate! I think your rephrasing of the question is spot on. πŸ˜† It has made my day to hear from you…


  12. I understand exactly what you are saying. I learned a long time ago that material things are not what is important. It is the simple things.
    We all just need to slow down a bit and look around. We will be amazed at what we can see when we are not running.

    Have a great weekend.


  13. There is nothing so satisfying as reaching out and reaching a person you might not normally interact with, in a meaningful way. This was a great post Sel. A feel good post that reminds us all appearances aren’t always the best indicators of what a person is really all about. I bet this neighbour has a different perspective about you too.

    PS: RE your pencil jar post, I’m going hunting for a special jar to hold all my office bits and bobs next week, after reading that post. πŸ˜‰


  14. I love reading stories about people who can have the ability and the courage to touch another person’s soul…
    And reminding someone that there is more to life than responsibilities and work is just the kind of touch I’m taking about! Thank you for sharing this beautiful, inspirational story Selma πŸ™‚


  15. Hi PAM:
    Oh absolutely. There are so many lovely things to see if we take the time. It’s a beautiful world out there!

    Hi JINGLE:
    Thanks so much.

    I hope she does think of me differently. I would be pleased about that. I hope you find a lovely pot to put your pencils in. I find having it sitting there on the desk really inspires me!

    Hi LUA:
    My pleasure. You are so right – there is much, much more to life!


  16. Hi JINGLE:
    We don’t actually celebrate Father’s Day in Australia until September. I’m not sure why it’s at a different time to the rest of the world. Thanks just the same!

    Hi TEX:
    It really is a gift. You can’t judge a book by its cover, for sure!


  17. I love looking at life through your eyes too Selma. The way you write about nature, trees, bay windows over looking water ALWAYS change my perspective for the BETTER.


  18. Selma, this is beautiful. Your neighbor sounds like an interesting woman — someone who gets caught up in her work and responsibilities, but also manages to realize that she’s getting caught up and does something about it. That’s awesome.


  19. Hi KATE:
    That’s the important part, isn’t it? Seeing what needs to be changed. Not everyone can do it. Speaking to her that day has really changed my outlook.


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