It’s What You See

I really like this quote from Henry David Thoreau –

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

I’m trying to adopt that philosophy as I wander around my neighbourhood looking for inspiration and stories.

It is amazing what you see when you look.

This magnolia flower, already hot pink, easing open more and more each day as the sun rises more warmly towards spring. I was so impressed by the symmetry of its progress that I checked to see if there was a lever inside but there was nothing, only soft, blushing otherworldliness.

This is a cake shop in King Street, Newtown, but it made me think how wondrous a thing it would be if an actual town existed named Caketown. Can you imagine a town made entirely of cake? Or where the major currency was cake? Or where social status was achieved according to the complexity and depth of  your cake flavours? I know I would be happy if I lived in Caketown. I know I would fit in. Caketown – all about the cake, all the time. Postcode 2300-YUM.

I love skyscrapers. Such incredible feats of engineering. I have seen crews cleaning the windows on this building and I wonder how they hold onto their nerve (or their lunch.) That is a job that almost falls into the extreme sport category – window cleaning at 500 feet.

I see this boat all the time. Near the Fish Markets it stays, all proud, its mast straight and erect like a soldier with its chest puffed out. I wonder what it must be like to live on a boat like that – all day on the sea, watching the light open and close. Feeling the sweet ebb and flow of the tides.

I like the industrial push of the old power station at White Bay. It has a sci-fi, end of the world feel to it with its smoke stacks interrupting the skyline and its abandoned buildings. Sometimes when I walk by it I imagine a group of post-apocalyptic humans who are now part-cyborg lying in wait for me with the intent of sucking all of the stories out of my head. It is a creepy place to walk on a quiet day.

People say there’s no love in the world anymore, that we are all too cynical or disillusioned or afraid to express our feelings. Well, whoever loves Zoe isn’t. How nice to be loved so much, to be truly someone’s darling that they will write that love on a laneway wall. Signs of love really do turn up in unexpected places.

Random images, surprising us, pleasing us, gifts to us. There is something different, galvanizing, everywhere we look. All around us, above and below. So much to look at that matters. So much to see.

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43 thoughts on “It’s What You See

  1. Hi Selma,
    Love the quote and it really is so true. I love your first photo, it is brilliant for the first day of Spring here in OZ.
    I believe there is still plenty of love in the world, we just have to look past all the bad news we see in papers and on TV, and it really is there in front of us. 😀

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    1. I just love magnolias, Mags. They are so pretty and elegant. When I see one I smile. One day I will have a garden full of them. I agree with you about the love in the world still being there. I see it everywhere!

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  2. I wanna go to Caketown right now!!! I’ve been craving a big piece of carrot cake so baddddd…LOL

    I love this post Sel, so true, it’s what we actually see that counts. We have to be engaged in the moment to moment sights and events to really enjoy it all. Love that first photo, spring colors, so pretty. 🙂

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    1. Let’s move to Caketown. The town motto will be : ‘Let them eat cake!’ I love carrot cake too. OMG. It is super-delicious. Well now you know what I will be doing today – baking some cakes. NOM NOM NOM!!!!

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  3. This is so true Selma, there really is wonder and beauty all around us. I saw a smashing caterpillar the other day, he looked like he had a little top hat on. I’d love to have a little seat in your head as you take your photo’s and have a running commentary :o) … and I love that you looked inside the flower :o)

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    1. I love those caterpillars that look like they’re wearing hats. It’s like being in a Disney movie, isn’t it? Believe me, Deborah, my head would be a very strange place to find yourself. Very fruity, for sure!

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    1. Aww thanks, Adeeyoyo. That is so sweet of you to say. I am a very slaphappy photographer (no technique at all) but I enjoy snapping away merrily. I have actually found photography to be a very good stimulus for writing. So many ideas come to mind from the things I see on my walks. There is so much material out there!

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  4. Loved the Thoreau quote … so many people tink ‘Lokk’ is synonymous with ‘see’.

    I think of Galen Rowell, who took the title of his book ‘Many People Come, Looking, Looking’ from something told to him by a Sherpa:

    ‘Many people come looking, looking, taking picture. That is bad. Buit, a few people come to see. That is good’

    (I also think of an oft-repeated quote of mine, from Air Force days, which, although I didn’t mean it to be so, has become something of a legend:

    ‘Never mind ‘hearing what I’m saying’! Try bloody listening!’

    As to the photography … excellent. You really have the eye for it, and I bet you could put together a decent photo essay without going past the end of your street.

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    1. It’s a great quote, isn’t it? And I think a lot of people are guilty of not seeing things – just trudging through the days. I like and agree with what the Sherpa said. How true.

      And I do think listening well is related to seeing well. It’s all about taking it all in. Thanks for saying that about the photos – you have spurred me on!

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  5. Hey Selma, I have a note book that I keep quotes in, this one is on the very first page!, I love taking trips with you around your city ~~ Your images here are just wonderful.

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    1. SUSAN, I do that too!!! I have so many notebooks full of quotes and ideas and things I’ve seen that I could write 20 blog posts a day for the next 5 years. I don’t know when I’m going to use them all – there just isn’t enough time. I really will need to get more organised!!

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    1. I have a feeling that some of us wouldn’t be adverse to starting a community of our own. Now I wonder what we could call it? Mhmmmm. Let me see – CAKETOWN!!!!!! 😆

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  6. All those photos are wonderful – you have a good eye Selma. Caketown is fabulous (Squires would have loved that one – hahaha – we shall eat cake) – the picture of the highrise just seems to get bigger and bigger as you scroll down; I also love the ‘industrial’ look of power stations (definitely has a sci fi vibe).

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    1. Squires would have loved that, wouldn’t he? Would’ve given him a right chuckle. Those highrises are incredible. Don’t know how high they actually are but they seem to go on forever. That power station is really creepy at night. Very Gothic. It would make a great setting for a horror movie!

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  7. Love the pics and the quote Selma. Magnolias are a sure sign of spring here too, although the petals are quite a bit lighter pink, it’s still wonderful to see a pink tree in full bloom! They don’t last long, the type here bloom and then the flowers fall, leaving just green leaves. Gorgeous while it lasts though.

    The one thing I like about little kids is the wonder in their eyes as they look around. As an adult we have to work harder to “see” what we look at and that’s sad.

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    1. I agree with you about the little kids – they are just so full of wonder. Not jaded at all. They remind us what life is about to a certain extent.

      I’m on a magnolia hunt at the moment. I am seeing them everywhere in their glorious pinks. It’s like a carnival. Absolutely love it!

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  8. A long time ago I declared that I take pictures for the purpose of learning to see; because it is so true what you say: that it doesn’t matter a bit what you look at. The seeing, the interpretaion of what you look at, what is actually there, happens in your mind. The mind makes the story, and the mind has an almost irrefutable tendency to believe its own stories. When we “see” we tend to see our story, not what is really there. It is an amazing practice to acyually ‘see‘ and investigate this endless routine of “processing” reality…

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    1. KLAUS! So nice of you to drop by. What a treat. Seeing really is an amazing practice. It adds a richness and vivdness to life that we would miss otherwise. I really do enjoy the process of it!

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  9. I love Thoreau’s words, and the quote you’ve selected here is no exception.

    Gosh Selma, your images and your words are a delight and make me feel like the world is giving me a nice big warm hug. Your wonder and delight is intoxicating.

    PS. I’d totally fit right in at Caketown too! 🙂
    xx

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    1. Awww, Tracey, that’s so nice of you to say so. I think so many of us need a big hug at the moment in this horrible world that it’s nice to focus on something postive. And yes, Caketown would fit the bill for many of us 😀

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  10. thank you for the tour of your world. 🙂 What you wrote is so true. When we see the world around us in a way that puts us where we can truly be part of it is when the good things happen.

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    1. Oh, totally. Being active and present in the world is very important. As well as allowing us to be part of the good stuff I also think it allows us to cope better with deflecting the bad stuff. Like Wonder Woman and her magical bracelets!

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  11. I firmly believe in that quote; i always am on the lookout for something worth seeing. Your photos as always are great; i love them.
    As for caketown; I think I’d prefer Pizzacity – I’d so be the major of that place. I love pizza.

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  12. Selma, thank you so much for your kind message and birthday wishes. It is an honour to have you visit and appreciate my ramblings and photos. Now, the title of this post certainly grabbed my attention as you can imagine! I adore the images and thoughts you have captured and shared. The magnolia is beautiful, I love city buildings too, and industrial ones and declarations of love and who can deny the effect of being near water. I live by a slightly adjusted version of the quote as you’ve probably figured out. “It’s not what I can’t see that matters, it’s those little joys I do see.” xx

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    1. My pleasure. I hope you had a magical birthday. I wanted to tell you that your ‘adjusted version ‘ of seeing which has so much joy in it has influenced my version of seeing. It is as if I see with more clarity now. You are a shining light ♥

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  13. I love Magnolias. In my hometown of New Orleans, the Magnolia Trees are quite large, as large as Oaks. From 70 feet in the air, all the way down in May you have the white blossoms unfolding. After leaving New Orleans, I have enjoyed encountering all the other Magnolia of the world where I have lived. A great flower. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I can imagine the magnolias in New Orleans must be astounding. As large as Oaks? WOW. I would love to see them. It would give me such a thrill. How fabulous!

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    1. Wouldn’t it be a cool place to live? But you wouldn’t be able to eat any of the cakes, would you? I would have to hire scientists to devise a totally non-allergenic cake just for you. Even better than the real thing. ♥

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  14. Selma, See this tree: http://www.flickr.com/photos/krispics/3627603498/ Notice how the tree goes up and up, toward the third story and more of this large building. The tree’s leaves are dark dark green, big and broad, and the white/pinkish flowers go from the bottom to the tops of the trees. Here’s another http://edbuley.blogspot.com/2011/02/transylvania-transformation.html. And another…. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_fKiy1oPSrbc/Soa3GkVSCLI/AAAAAAAAAkk/rIivo1OESZY/s1600-h/natchitoches20.jpg Verybeautiful trees from my home state.

    John

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    1. Those trees are extraordinary, John. I can’t believe how big they are. Thanks so much for linking to them. I also enjoyed learning that you don’t say the ‘Louise’ in Louisiana. So cool!

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